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And the Kaiser Abdicates. 



















COPYRIGHT 1920, 1 92 1 BY 

First published October, 1920. 

Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged, 

Se-ptetnber, ig2i. 







Chapter I. The Governmental Structure of Germany. 17 

Revolutions — Not unknown in Germany — Prussia and the Hohenzollerns 
— Frederick the Great — Germany under foreign domination — The Battle 
of the brotherhood of man — Lassalle's national Socialists join the Inter- 
many's political backwardness — The war of 1870-71 — Erection of the 
German Empire — Why the Reichstag failed to become a real parliament — 
The Emperor's powers as Kaiser and as King of Prussia. 

Chapter II. The German Conception of the State. 31 

Individualism repressed for efficiency's sake — Authority the keynote — 
The Beamier and his special privileges — Prussian ideals of duty — Edu- 
cation — The Officer corps as supporters of the throne — Militarism — 
Dreams of a Welt-Imperium — The fatal cancer of Socialism. 

Chapter III. Internationalism and Vaterlandslose Ge- 

sellen. 45 

The menace of internationalism — Marx and Engels — Socialist teachings 
of the brotherhood of man — Lassalle's national Socialists join the Inter- 
nationale of Marx, Engels and Liebknecht — Socialism becomes a political 
factor — Bismarck's special laws fail — He tries State Socialism — Kaiser 
Wilhelm denounces the Socialists — Labor-union movement a child of 
Socialism — German "particularism" — Socialism weakens feelings of 
patriotism and undermines the church. 

Chapter IV. Germany under the "Hunger- Blockade." 61 

Germany's inability to feed and clothe her inhabitants — The war reduces 
production — Germany's imports in 1913 — Food conservation — The 
"turnip-winter" — Everybody goes hungry — Terrible increase of mortali- 
ty — Discontent engendered and increased by suffering — Illegitimate trade 
in the necessaries of life — Rations at the front become insufficient. 

Chapter V. Internationalism at Work. 75 

General enthusiasm at the war's outbreak — Socialists support the govern- 
ment — Liebknecht denounces the war — Otto Riihle, Franz Mehring, Clara 
Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg — The "Spartacus Letters" — Extreme So- 
cialists begin to follow Liebknecht — The first open break in the party — 
The seceders attack the war — Liebknecht sent to prison — The Russian 
Revolution as a factor — The political strikes of January, 1918 — The army 
disaffected — Shortage of trained officers. 

Chapter VI. Propaganda and Morale. 89 

Submarine losses shake sailors' morale — Independent Socialists' propa- 
ganda — Admiral von Cappelle admits serious mutiny at Wilhelmshafen — 
Haase, Dittmann and Vogtherr denounced — Lenine passes through Ger- 
many — Russian Bolshevist propaganda in Germany — Treaty of Brest- 
Litovsk throws down the bars — Activities of the Bolshevist Ambassador 
Joffe — Haase, Cohn and other Independent Socialists work with him — 
Joffe expelled from Germany — Allied propaganda helps weaken German 
morale at home and on the fronts — Atrocity stories. 

Chapter VII. Germany Requests an Armistice. 107 

Chancellor Michaelis resigns and is succeeded by Count Hertling — 
Empire honeycombed with sedition — Count Lichnowsky's memoirs — 
Another Chancellor crisis — Socialists consent to enter a coalition govern- 
ment — Bulgaria surrenders — Hertling admits desperateness of situation — 
The German front begins to disintegrate — Prince Max of Baden becomes 
Chancellor, with the Socialist Philip Scheidemann as a cabinet member — 
Max requests an armistice — Lansing's reply. 

Chapter VIII. The Last Days of Imperial Germany. 121 

Reforms come too late — The Independent Socialists attack the govern- 
ment — Liebknecht released from prison and defies the authorities — The 
Kaiser makes sweeping surrenders of powers — Austria-Hungary's de- 
fection — Revolution in Vienna — Socialists demand the Kaiser's abdication 
— The new cabinet promises parliamentary reforms. 

Chapter IX. A Revolt Which Became a Revolution. 133 

Mutiny at Kiel — Troops fire on mutinous sailors — Demands of the muti- 
neers granted — Noske arrives — The red flag replaces the imperial stand- 
ard — Prince Henry's flight — Independent Socialists and Spartacans seize 
their opportunity — Soviets erected throughout Northwestern Germany — 
Official cowardice at Swinemiinde — Noske becomes Governor of Kiel. 

Chapter X. The Revolution Reaches Berlin. 147 

Lansing announces that the allied governments accept Wilson's fourteen 
points with one reservation — Max appeals to the people — Hamburg 
revolutionaries reach Berlin — Government troops brought to the capital — 
Independent Socialists meet in the Reichstag building — The revolution 
spreads — Majority Socialists join hands with the revolutionaries — Sup- 
posedly loyal troops mutiny — Revolution. 

Chapter XI. The Kaiser Abdicates. 159 

Ebert becomes Premier for a day — The German Republic proclaimed — 
Liebknecht at the royal palace — Officers hunted down in the streets — The 
rape of the bourgeois newspapers by revolutionaries — The first shooting — 
Ebert issues a proclamation and an appeal — A red Sunday — Revolution- 
ary meeting at the Circus Busch — A six-man cabinet formed — The Voll- 
zugsrat — Far-reaching reforms are decreed. 


Chapter XII. "The German Socialistic Republic.'' 177 

The end of the dynasties — The Kaiser flees — Central Soviet displays 
moderate tendencies — Wholesale jail-releases — The police disarmed — Die 
neue Freiheit — A Red Guard is planned, but meets opposition from the 
soldiers — Liebknecht organizes the deserters — Armistice terms a blow to 
the cabinet — The blockade is extended. 

Chapter XIII. "The New Freedom." 195 

Germany's armed forces collapse — Some effects of "the new freedom" — 
The Reichstag is declared dissolved — The cabinet's helplessness — Op- 
position to a national assembly — Radicals dominate the Vollzugsrat — 
Charges are made against it — The Red Soldiers' League — The first 
bloodshed under the new regime. 

Chapter XIV. The Majority Socialists in Control. 209 

Front soldiers return — The central congress of Germany's Soviets — 
Radicals in an insignificant minority — A new Vollzugsrat of Majority 
Socialists appointed — The People's Marine Division revolts — Independent 
Socialists leave ♦the cabinet — The Spartacus League organized — The 
national government's authority flouted — Aggressions by Czechs and 
Poles — An epidemic of strikes. 

Chapter XV. Liebknecht Tries to Overthrow the Gov- 
ernment; Is Arrested and Killed. 225 
The first Bolshevist uprising — Prominent Berlin newspapers seized by 
the Spartacans — The Independent Socialists' double-dealing — Capture of 
the Vorwdrts plant — Ledebour, Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg ar- 
rested — Liebknecht and Luxemburg killed — The Bolsheviki turn their 
attention to coast cities. 

Chapter XVI. The National Assembly. 237 

Germany's political parties reorganize — Theodor Wolff — Composition of 
the National Assembly — Convenes at Weimar — Spartacans stage various 
uprisings— Friedrich Ebert elected provisional president of the German 
Republic — Germany's desperate financial situation — The difference be- 
tween theory and practice. 

Chapter XVII. The Spartacans Rise Again. 251 

Germany still hungering — Promised supplies of food delayed — Gas and 
coal shortage — Strikes add to people's sufferings — The Spartacans plan 
another uprising — Severe fighting in Berlin — The radical newspaper 
Die rote Fahne suppressed — Independent Socialists go over to the 
Spartacans — Independent Socialist and Spartacan Platforms contrasted. 

Chapter XVIII. Red or White Internationalism: 

Which? 265 

Radicalism encouraged by Bolshevism's success in Hungary. 



Chapter XIX. The Weimar Constitution. 273 

History of the new constitution — An advancedly democratic institution — 
Important change in constitution on third reading — The imperial constitu- 
tion ceases to exist — Two "main divisions" — Construction of the state — 
Preambles of old and new constitutions compared — Fundamental and 
sweeping changes — Radical curtailment of states' rights — The President 
— The Reichstag, importance assigned to it — The Reichsrat — Legislative 
procedure — Referendum and initiative — Amendments — "Fundamental 
rights and fundamental duties of the Germans" — Articles on social and 
economic life — Socialist influence becomes unmistakable — Sweeping 
socialization made possible — Workmen's council is "anchored" in the 

The Constitution of the German Commonwealth. 294 

Translation by William Bennett Munro and Arthur Norman Hol- 
COMBE. Reprinted by permission of the World Peace Foundation. 



THE developments leading up to the German Revolu- 
tion of November, 191 8, and the events marking the 
course of the revolution itself are still but imper- 
fectly known or understood in America. For nearly two years 
preceding the overthrow of the monarchy, Americans, like 
the people of all other countries opposing Germany, were de- 
pendent for their direct information upon the reports of 
neutral correspondents, and a stringent censorship prevented 
these from reporting anything of value regarding the con- 
ditions that were throughout this period gradually making 
the German Empire ripe for its fall. To a great extent, in- 
deed, not only these foreign journalists, but the great mass 
of the Germans themselves, had little knowledge of the man- 
ner in which the Empire was being undermined. 

During the crucial days of the revolution, up to the com- 
plete overthrow of the central government at Berlin, a sharp- 
ened censorship prevented any valuable direct news from 
being sent out, and the progress of events was told to the out- 
side world mainly by travelers, excited soldiers on the Danish 
frontier and two or three-day-old German newspapers whose 
editors were themselves not only handicapped by the censor- 
ship, but also ignorant of much that had happened and un- 
able to present a clear picture of events as a whole. When 
the bars were finally thrown down to enemy correspondents, 
the exigencies of daily newspaper work required them to de- 
vote their undivided attention to the events that were then 
occurring. Hence the (developments preceding and attending 
the revolution could not receive that careful consideration 
and portrayal which is necessary if they are to be properly 

An attempt is made in this book to make clear the factors 
and events that made the revolution possible, and to give a 
broad outline of its second phase, from the middle of No- 



vember, 191 8, to the ratification by Germany of the Peace 
of Versailles. A preliminary description of Germany's gov- 
ernmental structure, although it may contain nothing new to 
readers who know Germany well, could not be omitted. It is 
requisite for a comprehension of the strength of the forces 
and events that finally overthrew the Kaiser. 

Much of the history told deals with matters of which the 
author has personal knowledge. He had been for several 
years before the war resident in Berlin as an Associated 
Press correspondent. He was in Vienna when the Dual Mon- 
archy declared war on Serbia, and in Berlin during mobili- 
zation and the declarations of war on Russia and France. 
He was with the German armies on all fronts during the first 
two years of the war as correspondent, and was in Berlin two 
weeks before America severed diplomatic relations with 
Germany. The author spent the summer of 191 7 in Russia, 
and watched the progress of affairs in Germany from Stock- 
holm and Copenhagen during the winter of 191 7-18. He 
spent the three months preceding the German Revolution in 
Copenhagen, in daily touch with many proved sources of 
information, and was the first enemy correspondent to enter 
Germany after the armistice, going to Berlin on November 
18, 1 91 8. He attended the opening sessions of the National 
Assembly at Weimar in February, 1919, and remained in 
Germany until the end of March, witnessing both the first 
and second attempts of the Spartacans to overthrow the 
Ebert-Haase government. 

The author's aim in writing this book has been to give a 
truthful and adequate picture of the matters treated, without 
any "tendency" whatever. It is not pretended that the book 
exhausts the subject. Many matters which might be of inter- 
est, but which would hinder the straightforward narration 
of essentials, have been omitted, but it is believed that noth- 
ing essential to a comprehension of the world's greatest 
political event has been left out. 

A word in conclusion regarding terminology. 

Proletariat does not mean, as is popularly supposed in 
America, merely the lowest grade of manual laborers. It in- 
cludes all persons whose work is "exploited" by others, i. e., 



who depend for their existence upon wages or salaries. Thus 
actors, journalists, clerks, stenographers, etc., are reckoned 
as proletarians. 

The bourgeoisie includes all persons who live from the 
income of investments or from businesses or properties (in- 
cluding real estate) owned by them. In practice, however, 
owners of small one-man or one-family businesses, although 
belonging to what the French term the petite bourgeoisie, 
are regarded as proletarians. The nobility, formerly a class 
by itself, is now de facto included under the name bour- 
geoisie, despite the contradiction of terms thus involved. 

No effort has been made toward consistency in the spelling 
of German names. Where the German form might not be 
generally understood, the English form has been used. In 
the main, however, the German forms have been retained. 

Socialism and Social-Democracy, Socialist and Social- 
Democrat, have been used interchangeably throughout. 
There is no difference of meaning between the words. 


Asheville, New York, 
November i, 1919. 



The Governmental Structure of 

THE peoples of this generation — at least, those of 
highly civilized and cultured communities — had lit- 
tle or no familiarity with revolutions and the history 
of revolutions before March, 191 7, when Tsar Nicholas II 
was overthrown. There was and still is something about the 
very word "revolution" which is repugnant to all who love 
ordered and orderly government. It conjures up pictures 
of rude violence, of murder, pillage and wanton destruction. 
It violates the sentiments of those that respect the law, for it 
is by its very nature a negation of the force of existing laws. 
It breaks with traditions and is an overcoming of inertia; 
and inertia rules powerfully the majority of all peoples. 

The average American is comparatively little versed in 
the history of other countries. He knows that the United 
States of America came into existence by a revolution, but 
"revolutionary" is for him in this connection merely an ad- 
jective of time used to locate and describe a war fought be- 
tween two powers toward the end of the eighteenth century. 
He does not realize, or realizes but dimly, the essential kin- 
ship of all revolutions. Nor does he realize that most of the 
governments existing today came into being as the result of 
revolutions, some of them bloodless, it is true, but all at bot- 
tom a revolt against existing laws and governmental forms. 
The extortion of the Magna Charta from King John in 12 15 
was not the less a revolution because it was the bloodless work 
of the English barons. It took two bloody revolutions to 
establish France as a republic. All the Balkan states are the 
products of revolution. A man need not be old to remember 



the overthrow of the monarchy in Brazil; the revolution in 
Portugal was but yesterday as historians count time. Only 
the great wisdom and humanitarianism of the aged King 
Oscar II prevented fighting and bloodshed between Sweden 
and Norway when Norway announced her intention of break- 
ing away from the dual kingdom. The list could be extended 

The failure to recall or realize these things was one of the~ 
factors responsible for the universal surprise and amaze- 
ment when the Hohenzollerns were overthrown. The other 
factor was the general — and justified — impression that the 
government of Germany was one of the strongest, most ably 
administered and most homogeneous governments of the 
world. And yet Germany, too, or what subsequently became 
the nucleus of Germany, had known revolution. It was but 
seventy years since the King of Prussia had been forced to 
stand bareheaded in the presence of the bodies of the " March 
patriots," who had given their lives in a revolt which re- 
sulted in a new constitution and far-reaching concessions to 
the people. 

Even to those who did recall and realize these things, 
however, the German revolution came as a shock. The 
closest observers, men who knew Germany intimately, 
doubted to the very last the possibility of successful revolu- 
tion there. And yet, viewed in the light of subsequent hap- 
penings, it will be seen how natural, even unavoidable, the 
revolution was. It came as the inevitable result of conditions 
created by the war and the blockade. It will be the purpose of 
this book to make clear the inevitableness of the debacle, and 
to explain the events that followed it. 

For a better understanding of the whole subject a brief 
explanation of the structure of Germany's governmental 
system is in place. This will serve the double purpose of 
showing the strength of the system which the revolution 
was able to overturn and of dispelling a too general igno- 
rance regarding it. 

The general condemnation of Prussia, the Prussians and 
the Hohenzollerns must not be permitted to obscure their 
merits and deserts. For more than five hundred years with- 



out a break in the male line this dynasty handed down its 
inherited rights and produced an array of great administra- 
tors who, within three centuries, raised Prussia to the rank 
of a first-rate power. 

The kingdom that subsequently became the nucleus for the 
German Empire lost fully half its territory by the Peace of 
Tilsit in 1807, when, following the reverses in the Napole- 
onic wars, Germany was formally dissolved and the Con- 
federation of the Rhine was formed by Napoleon, The stand- 
ing army was limited to 42,000 men, and trade with Great 
Britain was prohibited. The Confederation obeyed the letter 
of the military terms, but evaded its spirit by successively 
training levies of 42,000 men, and within six years enough 
trained troops were available to make a revolt against Na- 
poleonic slavery possible. The French were routed and cut 
to pieces at the Battle of the Nations near Leipsic in 181 3, 
and Prussian Germany was again launched on the road to 

A certain democratic awakening came on the heels of the 
people's liberation from foreign domination. It manifested 
itself particularly in the universities. The movement became 
so threatening that a conference of ministers of the various 
states was convoked in 18 19 to consider counter-measures. 
The result was an order disbanding the political unions of 
the universities, placing the universities under police super- 
vision and imposing a censorship upon their activities. 

The movement was checked, but not stopped. In 1847 
ominous signs of a popular revolution moved King Frederick 
William IV of Prussia to summon the Diet to consider gov- 
ernmental reforms. The chief demand presented by this Diet 
was for a popular representation in the government. The 
King refused to grant this. A striking commentary upon the 
political backwardness of Germany is furnished by the fact 
that one of the demands made by a popular convention held 
in Mannheim in the following year was for trial by jury, a 
right granted in England more than six hundred years 
earlier by the Magna Charta. Other demands were for the 
freedom of the press and popular representation in the gov- 



The revolution of 1848 in Prussia, while it failed to pro- 
duce all that had been hoped for by those responsible for it, 
nevertheless resulted in what were for those times far-reach- 
ing reforms. A diet was convoked at Frankfort-on-the-Main. 
It adopted a constitution establishing some decided demo- 
cratic reforms and knit the fabric of the German confedera- 
tion more closely together. 

The structure of the Confederation was already very sub- 
stantial, despite much state particularism and internal fric- 
tion. An important event in the direction of a united Ger- 
many had been the establishment in 1833 of the ZoUverein 
or Customs Union. The existence of scores of small states,^ 
each with its own tariffs, currency and posts, had long hin- 
dered economic development. There is a well-known anec- 
dote regarding a traveler who, believing himself near the 
end of his day's journey, after having passed a dozen cus- 
toms-frontiers, found his way barred by the customs-officials 
of another tiny principality. Angered at the unexpected de- 
lay, he refused to submit to another examination of his ef- 
fects and another exaction of customs-duties. 

"You aren't a country," he said. "You're just a spot. I'll 
go around you." And this he did, without being seriously 
delayed in reaching his destination. 

The growing power of Germany aroused the fear of the 
French, who realized what the union of the vital, energetic 
and industrious German races would mean. Years of tension 
culminated in the war of 1870-71. The result is known. Un- 
prepared for the conflict, the French were crushed, just as 
Austria had been crushed four years earlier. 

The last external obstacle in the way of German unity 
and strength had thus strangely been removed. On Janu- 
ary 18, 1 87 1, while the victorious German armies still 
stood at the gates of Paris, King William I was proclaimed 
German Emperor as Kaiser Wilhelm I. 

^There were more than three hundred territorial sovereignties in Germany 
when the new constitution of the union was adopted at the Congress of 
Vienna in 1815. — There were principalities of less than one square mile in 
extent. The particularism engendered by this state of affairs has always been 
one of the greatest handicaps with which federal government in Germany 
has had to contend. 



The designation as "German Emperor" should be noted, 
because it is significant of the manner of union of the German 
Empire. The aged monarch was insistent that the title should 
be " Emperor of Germany." To this the sovereigns of the 
other German states objected, as carrying the implication of 
their own subjection. Between "German Emperor" or "Em- 
peror in Germany" and "Emperor of Germany," they 
pointed out, there was a wide difference. "German Emperor" 
implied merely that the holder of that title was primus inter 
pares, merely the first among equals, the presiding officer of 
an aggregation of sovereigns of equal rank who had con- 
ferred this dignity upon him, just as a diet, by electing one 
of its number chairman, confers upon him no superiority of 
rank, but merely designates him to conduct their delibera- 
tions. These sovereigns' jealousy of their own prerogatives 
had at first led them to consider vesting the imperial honors 
alternately with the Prussian and Bavarian King, but this 
idea was abandoned as impracticable. At the urgent repre- 
sentations of Bismarck the aged King consented, with tears 
in his eyes, it is said, to accept the designation of German 

The German Empire as thus formed consisted of twenty- 
five states and the Reichsland of Alsace-Lorraine, which 
was administered by a viceroy appointed by the King of 
Prussia. The empire was a federated union of states much on 
the pattern of the United States of America, but the federa- 
tive character was not completely carried out because of the 
particularism of certain states. The Bavarians, whose cus- 
toms of life, easy-going ways, and even dialects are more 
akin to those of the German Austrians than of the Prus- 
sians,^ exacted far-reaching concessions as the price of their 
entrance into the empire. They retained their own domestic 
tariff- imposts, their own army establishment, currency, rail- 
ways, posts, telegraphs and other things. Certain other 
states also reserved a number of rights which ought, for the 

*The Bavarians have from early days disliked the Prussians heartily. 
Saupreuss' (sow-Prussian) and other even less elegant epithets were in com- 
mon use against the natives of the dominant state. It must in fairness be 
admitted that this dislike was the natural feeling of the less efficient Ba- 
varian against the efficient and energetic Prussian. 



formation of a perfect federative union, to have been con- 
ferred upon the central authority. On the whole, however, 
these reservations proved less of a handicap than might 
have been expected. 

The Imperial German Constitution adopted at this time 
was in many ways a remarkable document. It cleverly com- 
bined democratic and absolutist features. The democratic 
features were worked out with a wonderful psychological in- 
stinct. In the hands of almost any people except the Germans 
or Slavs the democratic side of this instrument would have 
eventually become the predominant one. That it did not is a 
tribute to the astuteness of Bismarck and of the men who, 
under his influence, drafted the constitution. 

The German Parliament or Reichsrat was composed of 
two houses, the Bundesrat, or Federal Council, and the 
Reichstag, or Imperial Diet. The Federal Council was de- 
signed as the anchor of absolutism. It was composed of fifty- 
eight members, of whom seventeen came from Prussia, six 
from Bavaria, and four each from Saxony and Wiirttemberg. 
The larger of the other states had two or three each, and 
seventeen states had but one each. In 191 1 three members 
were granted to Alsace-Lorraine by a constitution given at 
that time to the Reichsland. The members of the Federal 
Council were the direct representatives of their respective 
sovereigns, by whom they were designated, and not of the 
people of the respective states. Naturally they took their in- 
structions from their sovereigns. Nearly all legislative meas- 
ures except bills for raising revenue had to originate in the 
Federal Council, and its concurrence with the Reichstag was 
requisite for the enactment of laws. A further absolutist 
feature of the constitution was the provision that fourteen 
votes could block an amendment to the constitution. In other 
words, Prussia with her seventeen members could prevent 
any change not desired by her governing class. 

The Reichstag, the second chamber of the parliament, 
was a truly democratic institution. Let us say rather that it 
could have become a democratic institution. Why it did not 
do so will be discussed later. It consisted of 397 members, 
who were elected by the most unlimited suffrage prevailing 



at that time in all Europe. It is but recently, indeed within 
the last five years, that as universal and free a suffrage has 
been adopted by other European countries, and there are still 
many which impose limitations unknown to the German 
Constitution. Every male subject who had attained the age 
of twenty- five years and who had not lost his civil rights 
through the commission of crime, or who was not a delin- 
quent taxpayer or in receipt of aid from the state or his com- 
munity as a pauper, was entitled to vote. The vote was secret 
and direct, and the members of the Reichstag were responsi- 
ble only to their constituents and not subject to instructions 
from any governmental body or person. They were elected 
for a term of three years,^ but their mandates could be termi- 
nated at any time by the Kaiser, to whom was reserved the 
right to dissolve the Reichstag. If he dissolved it, however, 
he was compelled to order another election within a definite- 
ly stated period. 

One very real power was vested in the Reichstag. It had 
full control of the empire's purse strings. Bills for raising 
revenue and all measures making appropriations had to orig- 
inate in this chamber, and its assent was required to their 
enactment. The reason for its failure to exercise this control 
resolutely must be sought in the history of the German 
people, in their inertia where active participation in govern- 
mental matters is concerned, and in those psychological 
characteristics which Bismarck so well comprehended and 
upon which he so confidently counted. 

No people on earth had had a more terrible or continuous 
struggle for existence than the various tribes that later amal- 
gamated to form the nucleus for the German Empire. Their 
history is a record of almost continuous warfare, going back 
to the days of Julius Caesar. In the first years of the Christian 
era the Germans under Arminius (Hermann) crushed the 
Romans of Varus's legions in the Teutoburg Forest, and the 
land was racked by war up to most modern times. Most of 
its able-bodied men were exterminated during the Thirty 
Years War (1618-1648).^ This almost constant preoccupa- 

^This was later altered to five years. 

*The population of Germany dropped from twenty to less than seven 
millions during this war. 



tion in war had a twofold result : it intensified the struggle 
for existence of the common man and kept him from devoting 
either his thoughts or energies to problems of government, 
and it strengthened the powers of a comparatively small rul- 
ing-class, who alone possessed any culture and education and 
whose efforts were naturally directed to keeping their serfs 
in the subjection of ignorance. These conditions prevailed 
until well into the last century. 

The conditions can best be appreciated by a comparison 
with the conditions existing in England at the same time. 
England, too, had had her wars, but her soil was but rarely 
ravaged by foreign invaders, and never to the extent in 
which Germany repeatedly suffered. Parliamentary govern- 
ment of a sort had existed more than three centuries in Eng- 
land before it reached Germany. A milder climate than that 
of North Germany made the struggle for the bare neces- 
saries of life less strenuous, and gave opportunity to a greater 
proportion of the people to consider other things than the 
mere securing of enough to eat and drink. They began to 
think politically centuries before political affairs ceased 
to rest entirely in the hands of the nobility of Germany. 

The Germans of the lower and middle classes — in other 
words, the vast majority of the whole people — were thus 
both without political training and without even the inclina- 
tion to think independently along political lines. Some ad- 
vance had, it is true, been made along these lines since the 
Napoleonic wars, but the events of 1871 nevertheless found 
the great mass of the people without political tutelage or 
experience. People even more politically inclined would 
have found themselves handicapped by this lack of training, 
and the German — particularly the Southern German — is 
not politically inclined. This will be discussed more fully in 
the chapters dealing with the course of events following the 
revolution of 191 8. It will be sufficient to point out here the 
German's inclination to abstract reasoning, to philosophiz- 
ing and to a certain mysticism ; his love of music and fine arts 
generally, his undeniable devotion to the grosser creature- 
comforts, eating and drinking, and his tendency not to wor- 
ry greatly about governmental or other impersonal affairs 



provided he be kept well fed and amused. It is, in brief, the 
spirit to which the Roman emperors catered with the panefn 
et circeiises, and which manifests itself strikingly in the Ger- 
man character. The result of all this was a marked inertia 
which characterized German political life up to recent years. 
Even when a limited political awakening came it was chief- 
ly the work of German-Jews, not of Germans of the old 

These, then, were the conditions that prevented the demo- 
cratic features of the Imperial Constitution from acquiring 
that prominence and importance which they would have 
acquired among a different people. The Kaiser could dis- 
solve the Reichstag at will. Why, then, bother oneself about 
opposing the things desired by the Kaiser and his brother 
princes? It merely meant going to the trouble of a new elec- 
tion, and if that Reichstag should prove recalcitrant also, 
it could in its turn be dissolved. Apparently it never. occurred 
to the mass of the Germans that the Kaiser could not go on 
indefinitely dissolving a representative body which insisted 
upon carrying out the people's will. The Reichstag, being on 
the whole neither much wiser nor more determined than the 
people that elected it, accepted this view of the situation. Oc- 
casionally it showed a bit of spirit, notably when it adopted 
a vote of censure against the government in the matter of 
the Zabern affair in 191 3. On the whole, however, it ac- 
cepted meekly the role that caused it to be termed, and just- 
ly, a "debating club." And this was precisely the role that 
had been planned for it by the drafters of the constitution. 

In justice to the Reichstag, however, one thing should be 
pointed out. When the German Empire was formed the 
country was still predominantly an agricultural land. The 
election districts were on the whole justly erected, and no 
one section of the country had a markedly disproportionate 
number of representatives. It was not long, however, before 
the flight to the cities began in Germany as in other coun- 
tries, and at the beginning of the present century the greater 
part of Germany's population lived in the cities. The result 
was speedily seen in the constitution of the Reichstag, since 
no redistricting was ever made since the original districting 



of 1 87 1. Greater Berlin, with a population around four mil- 
lion, elected but six representatives to the Reichstag. In 
other words, there were some 660,000 inhabitants for every 
delegate. The agricultural districts, however, and especially 
those of Northern Germany — East Elbia, as it is termed — 
continued to elect the same number of representatives as at 
the beginning to represent a population which had increased 
but little or not at all. There were districts in East and West 
Prussia, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Pomerania and Posen 
where fewer than ten thousand voters were able to send a 
representative to the Reichstag. 

The result was the natural one. Throughout the world con- 
servatism has its headquarters on the farms. The farmers 
cling longest to the old order of things, they free themselves 
the most slowly from tradition, they are least susceptible to 
sociological and socialistic ideas and, in so far as they own 
their own land, they are among the strongest supporters of 
vested property-rights. In no other country was this more 
the case than in Germany, and especially in the districts 
mentioned, where large estates predominate and whence 
have come for two hundred years the most energetic, faith- 
ful and blindly loyal servants of their sovereign. The cities, 
on the other hand, and particularly the larger cities are the 
strongholds of new ideas. They are in particular the breed- 
ing-places of Socialism and Communism. Five of the six 
Reichstag members elected from Greater Berlin in 1912 
were Social- Democrats, and the sixth was a Progressive 
with advanced democratic ideas. 

With the shifting population and the consequent distor- 
tion of the election districts, a tremendous advantage ac- 
crued to the rural communities; in other words, the forces 
opposed to democratic reforms and in favor of maintaining 
and even increasing the powers of the King and Emperor • 
steadily increased proportionately their representation in 
the Reichstag at the expense of the friends of democracy. At 
the Reichstag election of 191 2 the Socialists cast roundly 
thirty-five per cent of the total popular vote. Handicapped 
by the unjust districting, however, they were able to elect 
only no delegates, whereas their proportion of the total 



vote entitled them to 139. The Progressives, most of whose 
strength also lay in the cities, likewise received fewer mem- 
bers than their total vote entitled them to have. Under a 
fair districting these two parties would together have had 
nearly a clear majority of the Reichstag. There is reason to 
believe that the whole course of history of the last years 
would have been altered had Germany honestly reformed 
her Reichstag election districts ten years ago. On such small 
things does the fate of nations often rest. 

The Kaiser, as the president of the empire, was authorized 
to "represent the empire internationally." He named the 
diplomatic representatives to foreign courts and countries 
and to the Vatican. He was empowered to make treaties, 
and to declare defensive warfare provided the enemy had 
actually invaded German territory. He could not declare an 
offensive war without the consent of the Federal Council, 
nor a defensive war unless the invasion mentioned had taken 
place. He was commander-in-chief of the navy, and of the 
Prussian army and the armies of the other federal states ex- 
cept of Saxony and Bavaria, which maintained their own 
military establishments. He appointed — in theory — all fed- 
eral officials and officers of the army and navy. On the whole,, 
however, his powers as German Emperor were strictly lim- 
ited and hardly went beyond the powers of the ruler of any 
constitutional monarchy. 

It was as King of Prussia, however, that he really exer- 
cised the greatest power, and thus vicariously strengthened 
his powers in the empire at large. The parliamentary system 
of Prussia was archaic and designed to make impossible any 
really democratic government or a too severe limitation up- 
on the powers of the King. It was, like the Imperial Parlia- 
ment, made up of two chambers, a House of Lords and a 
Diet. The upper chamber, the House of Lords, was composed 
of men appointed by the King, either for a fixed term or for 
life. It goes without saying that all these men were strong 
supporters of the monarchic system and outspoken enemies 
of democracy. No legislation could be enacted against their 
will. The composition of the Diet, moreover, was such that 
the House of Lords had until very recent years little to fear 



in the way of democratic legislation. It was elected by the 
so-called three-class system, under which a wealthy man 
frequently had greater voting power than his five hundred 
employees together. The ballot moreover was indirect, 
the delegates being elected by a complicated system of 
electors. In addition to all this, the ballot was open, not 
secret. This placed a powerful weapon in the hands of the 
employing classes generally and of the great estate-owners 
particularly. The polling-places in rural districts were gen- 
erally located on land belonging to one of these estates, and 
the election officials were either the estate-owners themselves 
or men dependent on them. In these circumstances it took a 
brave man to vote otherwise than his employer desired, and 
there was no way of concealing for whom or what party he 
had voted. Bismarck himself, reactionary and conservative 
as he was, once termed the Prussian three-class voting-sys- 
tem "the most iniquitous of all franchise systems." 

Around this a fight had waged for several years before 
the revolution. The Kaiser, as King of Prussia, flatly prom- 
ised, in his address from the throne in 1908, that the system 
should be reformed. It is a matter of simple justice to record 
that he made the promise in good faith and tried to see that 
it was kept. His efforts along this line were thwarted by a 
small clique of men who were determined "to protect the 
King against himself," and who, lacking even the modicum 
of political prescience possessed by the Kaiser- King, failed 
to see that if they did not make a concession willingly they 
would eventually be forced to make a concession of much 
greater extent. From year to year measures to reform the 
three-class system were introduced, only to be killed by the 
House of Lords. Under the stress of the closing days of the 
war such a measure was perfected and would have become 
a law had not the revolution intervened. But it came too 
late, just as did scores of other reforms undertaken in the 
eleventh hour. 

And thus, while the Kaiser's power as German Emperor 
was sharply limited, he enjoyed powers as King of Prussia 
which in some degree approached absolutism. The domi- 
nance of Prussia in the empire, while it could not transfer 



these powers to the Emperor de jure, did unquestionably 
effect to some degree a de facto transfer, which, while it did 
not in the long run have a very actual or injurious internal 
effect, nevertheless played a no inconsiderable part in the 
outside world and was responsible for a general feeling that 
Germany was in effect an absolute monarchy. German apolo- 
gists have maintained that Wilhelm II had less actual power 
as German Emperor than that possessed by the President of 
the United States. This statement is undoubtedly true, but 
with an important limitation and qualification. The Presi- 
dent's great powers are transitory and cannot — or in prac- 
tice do not — extend more than eight years at the most. His 
exercise of those powers is governed and restrained during 
the first four years by his desire to be re-elected; during the 
second four years he must also use his powers in such a wa}; 
that a democratic people will not revenge itself at the next 
election upon the President's party. But the Kaiser and King 
was subject to no such limitation. He ruled for life, and a dis- 
satisfied people could not take the succession away from the 
Hohenzollerns except by revolution. And nobody expected 
or talked of revolution. The only real control over abuses of 
power rested with a Reichstag which, as has already been 
explained, was too faithful a reflex of a non-political and 
inert constituency to make this control of more than mild 
academic interest. 


The German Conception of the State. 

WE have seen how the whole manner of life and 
the traditions of the Germans were obstacles to 
their political development. Mention has also 
been made of their peculiar tendency toward abstract phil- 
osophic habits of thought, which are not only inexplicable 
by the manner of the people's long-continued struggle for 
existence, but seem indeed to prevail in defiance of it. 

In addition to this powerful factor there existed another 
set of factors which worked with wonderful effectiveness 
toward the same end — the crippling of independent and 
practical political thinking. This was the conception of the 
state held by the ruling-classes of Germany and their manner 
of imposing this conception upon the people. It may briefly 
be put thus : the people existed for the sake of the state, not 
the state for the sake of the people. The state was the central 
and great idea; whatever weakened its authority or power 
was of evil. It could grant free play to individualism only 
in those things that could not affect the state directly, such 
as music and the fine arts, and to abstract philosophy and 
literature — particularly the drama — as long as they avoided 
dangerous political topics. Its keynote was authority and the 
subjection of the individual to the welfare of the state. 

The tendency of this system to make for efficiency so far 
as the actual brute power of a state is concerned cannot be 
denied in the light of the events of the World War. We have 
seen how in America itself, the stronghold of political and 
religious liberty, individualism was sternly repressed and 
€ven slight offenses against the authority of the state were 
punished by prison sentences of a barbarous severity un- 
known in any civilized country of Europe. We have seen the 



churches, reinterpreting the principles of the New Testa- 
ment, and the schools, rewriting history to supposed good 
ends, both enlisted in this repression of individualism for 
the sake of increasing the efficiency of the state at a time 
when the highest efficiency was required. 

But the distinction between such conditions here and the 
pre-war conditions in Germany is that they obtained, al- 
though in milder form, in Germany in peace times as well. 
And the Anglo-Saxon conception of the state is as of a thing 
existing for the sake of the people and with no possible in- 
terests that cannot be served by the democratic and indi- 
vidualistic development of its people. Between this concep- 
tion and the conception held by Germany's rulers there is a 
wide and irreconcilable difference. 

Apart, however, from any consideration of the merits of 
the German system, it must be admitted that the world has 
never seen another such intelligent application of principles 
of statecraft to the end sought to be attained. That the sys- 
tem eventually collapsed was not due to its internal faults, 
but to abnormal and unforeseeable events. The extent of its 
collapse, however, was directly due to the structure of the 
system itself. 

It has already been pointed out that authority was the 
keynote of the German system. This authority, embodied in 
school and church, began to mold the plastic mind of the 
German child as early as the age of six. "The Emperor is 
the father of his country and loves his children like a father; 
we owe him the obedience due to a father," taught the 
school. " Submit yourselves unto authority," said the church, 
using Paul's words to serve the ends of the state. The child 
came from school and church to his military service and 
found authority enthroned there. He had to obey the orders 
of every Vorgesetzter (superior in authority) from field 
marshal down to corporal. He found that, in the absence of 
officers or non-commissioned officers, he must submit him- 
self to the authority of the Stuhendltester, the senior soldier 
in the same room with him. Insubordination was punished 

Precept, example and punishment were but a part of a 



system calculated to make discipline and submission to au- 
thority advisable and profitable. The penalties prescribed 
by the German penal and military codes for infractions of 
the laws were far less severe than the penalties prescribed 
in the code of any American state, but conviction was fol- 
lowed by a consequence of great moment in Germany : the 
man who was vorbestraft, that is, who had been punished 
for any transgression, found himself automatically excluded 
from any opportunity to become a Beamier, or government 

The system of punishment had always as its chief purpose 
the laying of emphasis upon duty, and this was often ar- 
rived at in an indirect way. For example, the soldier who 
failed to keep his valuables in the locker provided for him 
in his barracks and who lost them by theft, was punished for 
his own negligence. 

No other country in the world employed so large a pro- 
portion of its total population in the administration of gov- 
ernment, and in no other country was the system so cleverly 
calculated to make government office attractive to the aver- 
age man. The salaries were not larger than those earned by 
men of the same class in non-official employments, but employ- 
ment under the government offered in addition both mate- 
rial and moral advantages. The chief material advantage 
was the right to retire after a specified number of years of 
service on liberal pension. The moral advantages rested in 
the dignity of government service and in the special protec- 
tion afi"orded government servants. A carefully graded scale 
of titles made its appeal to personal vanity. This has fre- 
quently been described as particularly German, but it was, 
in the last analysis, merely human. There are comparatively 
few men in any country, not excluding America, who are 
totally indifferent to titles, and there is at least one state 
whose fondness for them has become a stock subject for all 
American humorists. What was, however, particularly Ger- 
man was the astuteness with which the ruling-classes of Ger- 
many had turned this human weakness to account as an as- 
set of government, and also the extent to which it had been 
developed, epecially downward. Mr. Smith, who cleans the 



streets of an American city, would not be especially grati- 
fied to be addressed as Mr. Street-Cleaner, but his German 
colleague felt a glow of pride at hearing the address " Herr 
Street-Cleaner Schmidt," and this feeling was a very real 
asset to his government. It was the same at the other end of 
the scale. The government councillor was the more faithful 
and energetic in his devotion to the government's work be- 
cause he knew that by faithfulness and energy he would 
eventually become a "privy government councillor" and the 
next step would be to "real privy government councillor, 
with the predicate 'Your Excellency'." And since wives bore 
the titles of their husbands, the appeal was doubly strong. 

The Beamier enjoyed furthermore special protection un- 
der the law. To call an ordinary person "idiot," for example, 
was a Beleidigung or insult, but the same term applied to a 
Beaviter became Beamtenbeleidigung, or "insult to an of- 
ficial," and involved a much sharper punishment, and this 
punishment increased with the dignity of the person insulted 
until the person of the Kaiser was reached, an insult to 
whom was Majestdtsbeleidigung, an insult to majesty, or 
lese majeste, as the French term it. Prosecutions for Majes- 
idtsbeleidigung were not frequent, but the law was occasion- 
ally invoked. One of the last prosecutions for this offense oc- 
cured in 191 3, when a man who had demonstratively turned 
a picture of the Kaiser toward the wall in the presence of a 
large gathering was sent to jail for four months. 

Personal vanity was further exploited by a system of 
orders, decorations and civil-service medals. This system 
originated from an ancient custom which, with increasing 
travel, had become onerous. Royalty was everywhere ex- 
pected to tip servants only with gold, and since the smallest 
gold coin was the equivalent of the American $2.50-piece, 
this constituted a severe financial tax on the poorer ruler of 
small principalities, who traveled much. One of these petty 
rulers conceived the bright idea of creating a system of 
bronze orders or medallions and substituting these inex- 
pensive decorations for tips. The event justified his expecta- 
tions ; they were esteemed more highly than cash tips by 
people whose vanity was flattered at receiving a "decoration" 



from royalty. Eventually all states and the Empire adopted 
them. On fete days railway station-masters could be recog- 
nized on the streets by their numerous decorations. The rail- 
way-engineer, the mail-carrier, the janitor in a government 
office — all these men knew that so many years of loyal serv- 
ice meant recognition in the form of some sort of decora- 
tion for the coat-lapel, and these, in the stratum of society 
in which they moved, were just as highly regarded as was 
the Red Eagle or Hohenzollern House Order in higher 
classes of society. There is no room whatever for doubt that 
these things, whose actual cost was negligible, played a 
large part in securing faithful and devoted service to the 
government and compensated largely — and especially in the 
case of higher officials — for somewhat niggardly salaries. 
A prominent English statesman, visiting Berlin some years 
before the war, expressed to the writer his regret that Eng- 
land had not built up a similar system, which, in his opinion, 
was ^ powerful factor in securing a cheap and good admin- 
istration of public affairs. Like the system of titles, it took 
advantage of a weakness not merely German, but human. 
Instances of the refusal of foreign orders and decorations 
by Americans are rare. 

All these things, then, were factors of almost inestimable 
value in building up a strong governmental machine. At 
bottom, however, the whole structure rested upon another 
factor which should receive ungrudging admiration and 
recognition, regardless of one's attitude toward Germany 
or its governing classes. This was the strong sense of duty 
inculcated in every German, man or woman, from lowest to 
highest. Self-denial, a Spartan simplicity, faithfulness in 
the discharge of one's obligations — these were the character- 
istics that set their seal upon the average German. In some 
of the larger cities, and notably in Berlin, the Spartan ideals 
of life had been somewhat abandoned in the years preceding 
the war, but elsewhere they persisted, and nowhere to a 
greater extent than among the ruling-classes of Prussia, the 
so-called Junker. Former Ambassador Gerard has paid a 



deserved tribute to this class,^ and the universal condem- 
nation visited upon them by democratic peoples cannot 
justify a refusal to give them their due. 

This uncompromising devotion to duty had its roots in 
old Prussian history. Frederick William I, father of Fred- 
erick the Great, threatened his son with death if he were 
found derelict in what the stern old man regarded as the 
duty of a future ruler. 

The whole rule of Frederick the Great was marked by a 
rigid sense of duty. He termed himself "the first servant of 
the state," and no servant worked harder or allowed him- 
self less leisure or fewer bodily comforts. It was this mon- 
arch who, told of a brave act of sacrifice by one of his of- 
ficers, refused to consider it as anything calling for special 
recognition. Er hat nur seine verdammte PflicJit und Schuld- 
igkeit getan (he did only his accursed duty), said the King.. 
This saying became the formula that characterized the at- 
titude of the Prussian-German Beainten in their relations 
to the state. Whatever was (or was represented as) their 
"accursed duty" must be done, regardless of personal con- 
siderations or rewards. 

In the catalogue of virtues enumerated we have one im- 
portant group of prerequisites to efficient government. 
There remain two things : intelligence and education. The 
first can be dismissed briefly. The average of intelligeytice 
in all civilized countries is probably much the same. There 
would not be much diff"erence in native capa<3ity and ability 
between the best thousand of a million Germans or of a 
million men of any other race. In respect of education and 
training, however, German officials as a whole were at least, 
the equal of any body of government servants anywhere in 
the world and the superior of most. In the first place, edu- 
cational qualifications were definitely laid down for every 
category of officials. Nor were these qualifications deter- 
mined, as in the American civil-service, by an examination. 

*" There is no leisure class among the Junkers. They are all workers, 
patriotic, honest and devoted to the Emperor and the Fatherland, If it is- 
possible that government by one class is to be suffered, then the Prussian 
Junkers have proved themselves more fit for rule than any class in history. 
Their virtues are Spartan, their minds narrow but incorruptible, and their- 
bravery and patriotism undoubted. One can but admire them and their stern, 
virtues." James W. Gerard, My Four Years in Germany, p. 123. 



The candidate must have attended school and taken the pre- 
scribed course for a term of years, varying with the impor- 
tance of the government career to which he aspired. 

This insured the possession of adequate educational quali- 
fications of civil servants, and there was another thing of 
first importance in the building up of a strong and efficient 
civil-service. The "spoils system" in connection with public 
office was absolutely unknown in Germany. The idea that 
appointments to the government's service should depend up- 
on the political faith of the appointee was one that never 
occurred to any German. If it had occurred to him it would 
have been immediately dismissed as inconsistent with the 
best administration of the government's affairs, as, indeed, 
it is. The only partisan qualification, or rather limitation, 
upon eligibility to public office was that members of the So- 
cial-Democratic party were ineligible, and that government 
employees might not become members of that party. From 
the standpoint of the ruling-classes this was natural. It was 
more; it was requisite. For the German Socialists were the 
avowed and uncompromising enemies of the existing gov- 
ernment; they were advocates of a republic; they were the 
outspoken enemies of all authority except the Authority of 
their own class, for which they assumed to be the only legiti- 
mate spokesmen, and they were, like Socialists the world 
over, internationalists first and patriots second. No govern- 
ment could be expected to help its bitterest opponents to 
power by giving places of honor and profit to their repre- 

The tenure of government officials, except, of course, that 
of ministers, was for life. Promotion was by merit, not by 
influence. The result was an efficiency which is generally 
admitted. The municipal administration of German cities 
in particular became the model for the world. The system 
withstood the practical test; it worked. The Chief Burgo- 
master of Greater Berlin is a man whose whole life-training 
has been devoted to the administration of cities. Beginning 
in a subordinate position in a small city, he became eventu- 
ally its burgomaster (mayor), then mayor of a larger city, 
and so on until he was called to take charge of the adminis- 



tration of the empire's largest city. His career is typical of 
the German pre-revolutionary methods of choosing public 
servants, and the same principle was applied in every de- 
partment of the government's service. 

From the purposely brief sketch of German officialdom's 
characteristics and efficiency which has been presented it 
will be apparent that such a system was a powerful weapon 
in the hands of any ruling-class. Its efficiency might reason- 
ably be expected to crush any revolution in the bud, and the 
loyalty of the men composing it might equally be expected 
to maintain to the last their allegiance to the classes that 
represented authority, with its supreme fount in the 
person of the ruler himself. That these expectations were 
not fulfilled would seem to testify to the inherent and irre- 
sistible strength of the revolution that upset it. We shall see 
later, however, that it was a different class of men with whom 
the revolution had to cope. Against the spirit of German 
officialdom of ante-bellum days revolution would have raised 
its head in vain. 

The authority of the German state had another and even 
more powerful weapon than the Beamtentum. This was the 
military establishment and the officer-corps. Upon this in 
the first instance the throne of the Hohenzollerns was sup- 

Enlightened democracy discovered centuries ago that a 
large standing army may easily become the tool of abso- 
lutism and the enemy of free institutions. This discovery 
found expression in England in the consistent refusal of 
Parliament to create an army in permanence. The laws estab- 
lishing the English army had to be renewed periodically, so 
that it was possible at any time for the representatives of the 
people to draw the teeth of the military force if an attempt 
should be made to use that force for tyrannical ends. But 
the Germans, as has already been explained, lacked demo- 
cratic training and perceptions. Germany was moreover in 
a uniquely dangerous position. No other great power had 
such an unfavorable geographical situation. On the west 
was France, and there were thousands of Germans who had 
been told by their fathers the story of the Napoleonic slav- 


ery. On the east was Russia, stronghold of absolutism, with 
inexhaustible natural resources and a population more than 
twice Germany's. Great Britain commanded the seas, and 
Germany had to import or starve. 

It cannot fairly be doubted that, placed in a similar situa- 
tion, the most pacific nation would have armed itself to the 
teeth. But — and this is all-important — it is difficult to im- 
agine that such other nation would have become militaristic. 

The stock answer of German apologists to the accusations 
regarding "militarism" as exemplified in Prussia-Germany 
has been the assertion that France spent more money per 
capita on her military establishment than did Germany. 
This statement is true, but those making it overlooked the 
real nature of the charge against them. They did not realize 
that militarism, as the world saw it in their country, was not 
concrete, but abstract; it was, in brief, a state of mind. It 
could have existed equally well if the army had been but a 
quarter as large, and it did not exist in France, which, 
in proportion to her population, had a larger army than 
Germany. It exalted the profession of arms above all else; 
it divided the people into two classes, military and civil- 
ians. Its spirit was illustrated strikingly by the fact that when 
Wilhelm II ascended the throne, his first act was to issue a 
proclamation to the army, but it was not until three days 
later that his proclamation to the people was issued. Mil- 
itarism gave the youngest lieutenant at court precedence 
over venerable high civilian officials. 

The spirit of militarism permeated even to the remotest 
corners of daily activity in all walks of life. The gatekeeper 
at a railway crossing must stand at attention, with his red 
flag held in a prescribed manner, while the train is passing. 
A Berlin mail-carrier was punished for saluting a superior 
with his left hand, instead of with the right. A street-car 
conductor was fined for driving his car between two wagons 
of a military transport. This was in peace times, and the 
transport was conveying hay. That the passengers in the car 
would otherwise have had to lose much time was of no conse- 
quence; nothing could be permitted to interfere with any- 
thing hallowed by connection with the military establish- 



ment. When Herr von Bethmann Hollweg was appointed 
Imperial Chancellor it was necessary to give him military 
rank, since he had never held it. He was created a general, 
for it could not be suffered that a mere civilian should oc- 
cupy the highest post in the empire next to the Kaiser. The 
Kaiser rarely showed himself in public in civilian attire. 

It was but natural that the members of the officer-corps 
held an exalted opinion of their own worth and dignity. 
Militarism is everywhere tarred with the same stick, and 
army officers, if freed from effective civil control, exhibit 
in all lands the same tendency to arbitrariness and to a scorn 
and contempt for mere civilians. Such release from control 
is seen in other lands, however, only in time of war, where- 
as it was a permanently existing state of affairs in Germany. 
It worked more powerfully there than would have been the 
case anywhere else, for all the country's traditions and his- 
tory were of a nature to exalt military service. Ravaged by 
war for centuries, Germany's greatness had been built up 
by the genius of her army leaders and the bravery and loyal- 
ty of her soldiers. Hundreds of folksongs and poems known 
to every German child glorified war and its heroes. The 
youthful Theodor Korner, writing his Gehet vor der Schlacht 
(Prayer before the Battle) by the light of the bivouac-fires 
a few hours before the battle in which he was killed, makes 
a picture that must appeal even to persons who abhor war. 
How much greater, then, must its appeal have been to a 
military folk ! 

The German officer was encouraged to consider himself of 
better clay than the ordinary civilian. His "honor" was more 
delicate than the honor of women. It was no infrequent oc- 
currence for an officer, willing to right by marriage a wo- 
man whom he had wronged, to be refused permission either 
because she did not have a dowry corresponding to his rank, 
or because she was of a lower social class. Duelling among 
officers was encouraged, and to step on an officer's foot, or 
even to stare too fixedly at him {flxieren) was an insult call- 
ing for a duel. An officer's credit was good everywhere. His 
word was as readily accepted as a civilian's bond, and hon- 
esty requires that it be said that his trust was rarely mis- 



placed. His exaggerated ideas of honor led frequently to an 
arrogant conduct toward civilians, and occasionally to as- 
saults upon offenders, which in a few instances took the form 
of a summary sabering of the unfortunate victim.-^ 

The crassest of the outward, non-political manifestations 
of militarism in recent years was the Zabern affair. A young 
lieutenant had sabered a crippled shoemaker for a real or fan- 
cied offense against military rules. The townspeople made a 
demonstration against the officer, and the colonel command- 
ing the regiment stationed at Zabern locked a number of the 
civilians in the cellar of the barracks and kept them there all 
night. This was too much even for a docile German Reichs- 
tag, and an excited debate was followed by the passing of 
a vote of censure on a government which, through the mouths 
of its Chancellor and War Minister, had justified the colo- 
nel's actions. The colonel and the lieutenant were convicted 
upon trial and adequate sentences were imposed upon them, 
but the convictions were significantly set aside upon appeal 
and both escaped punishment. It was in connection with this 
affair that the German Crown Prince earned the censure of 
the soberer German elements by sending an encouraging 
telegram to the arbitary colonel. 

Militarism, in the aspects discussed, was a purely internal 
affair and concerned only the German people themselves. 
But there was another aspect, and it was this that xnade it a 
menace to the peace of the world and to true democracy. 

The very possession of an admirable weapon is a constant 
temptation to use it. This temptation becomes stronger in 
proportion as it springs with inclination. The Germans of 
the last fifty years were not a bellicose people. They had 
suffered too greatly from wars within the recollection of 
millions of men and women still living. On the other hand, 

'Some travelers and a certain class of correspondents have unduly exag- 
gerated the conditions referred to. They have pictured murders of this sort 
as of frequent occurrence, and, if they could be believed, German officers 
made it a custom to require women in the street cars to surrender their 
seats to them. In many years' residence in Germany the author learned of 
but two cases of the murder of civilians by officers, and he never saw a dis- 
play of rudeness toward a woman. The German officer almost invariably 
responded in kind to courtesy, but he did expect and require deference from 



they were familiar with war and the thought of it did not 
invoke the same repugnant fears and apprehensions as among 
less sorely tested peoples. The mothers of every generation 
except the youngest knew what it meant to see husbands, 
sons and brothers don the King's coat and march away be- 
hind blaring bands; they knew the anxiety of waiting for 
news after the battle, and the grief that comes with the an- 
nouncement of a loved one's death, and they considered it 
dimly, if they philosophized about it at all, as one of the 
things that must be and against which it were unavailing 
to contend. But the officers as a whole were bellicose. The 
reasons are multifold. It is inherent in the profession that 
officers generally are inclined to desire war, if for no other 
reason, than because it means opportunities for advancement 
and high honors. Beyond this, the German officer's training 
and traditions taught him that war was in itself a glorious 

In trying to understand the influences that dominated the 
government of Germany in its relations to foreign coun- 
tries it must be clearly realized and remembered that the 
real rulers of Germany came from the caste that had for 
nearly two centuries furnished the majority of the members 
of the officer-corps. The Emperor- King, assuming to rule by 
the grace of God, in reality ruled by the grace of the old 
nobility ajid landed gentry of Prussia, from whose ranks he 
sprang. This had been aptly expressed eighty years earlier 
by the poet Chamisso, in whose N achtwdchterlied appear 
the lines : 

Und der Konig absolut, 

Wenn er unseren Willen tut! 

(Let the King be absolute so long as he does our will.) It 
was inevitable that the views of this class should determine 
the views of government, and the only remarkable thing 
about the situation was that some of the men who, by the 
indirect mandate of this caste, were responsible for the con- 
duct of the government, were less bellicose and more pacific 
than their mandate-givers. There were some men who, in- 
fected with the virus of militarism, dreamed of the Welt- 



Imperium, the eventual domination of the world by Ger- 
many, to be attained by peaceful methods if possible, but 
under the threatening shadow of the empire's mighty mili- 
tary machine, which could be used if necessary. Yet even in 
their own caste they formed a minority. 

Such, in brief outline, was Germany — an empire built on 
the bayonets of the world's greatest and most efficient army 
and administered by tens of thousands of loyal and efficient 
civil servants. How was it possible that it could be over- 

In the last analysis it was not overthrown ; it was destroyed 
from within by a cancer that had been eating at its vitals 
for eighty years. And the seeds of this cancer, by the strange 
irony of fate, were sown in Germany and cultivated by Ger- 

The cancer was Socialism, or Social-Democracy, as it is 
termed in Germany. 



Internationalism and Vaterlandslose 

THE concluding statement in the previous chapter 
must by no means be takisn as a general arraignment 
of Socialism, and it requires careful explanation. 
Indiscriminately to attack Socialism in all its economic 
aspects testifies rather to mental hardihood than to an un- 
derstanding of these aspects. A school of political thought 
which has so powerfully affected the polity, of all civilized 
nations in the last fifty years and has put its impress upon 
the statutes of those countries cannot be lightly dismissed 
nor condemned without qualification. 

Citizens of the recently allied countries will be likely also 
to see merit in Socialism because of the very fact that, in one 
of its aspects, it played a large part in overthrowing an en- 
emy government. Let this be clearly set down and understood 
at the very beginning : the aspects of Socialism that made the 
German governmental system ripe for fall were and are 
inimical not only to the governmental systems of all states, 
but to the very idea of the state itself. 

More : The men responsible for the debacle in Germany — 
and in Russia — regard the United States as the chief strong- 
hold of capitalism and of the privilege of plutocracy, and the 
upsetting of this country's government would be hailed by 
them with as great rejoicing as were their victories on the 

The aspect of Socialism that makes it a menace to current 
theories of government is "internationalism" — its doctrine 
that the scriptural teaching that all men are brothers must 
become of general application, and the negation of patriot- 



ism and the elimination of state boundaries which that doc- 
trine logically and necessarily implies. And this doctrine 
was "made in Germany." 

The basic idea of Socialism goes back to the eighteenth 
century, but its name was first formulated and applied by the 
Englishman Robert Owen in 1835. Essentially this school 
of political thought maintains that land and capital gen- 
erally — the "instruments of production" — should become 
the property of the state or society. "The alpha and omega 
of Socialism is the transformation of private competing ag- 
gregations of capital into a united collective capital."^ Ethi- 
call}'^ Socialism is merely New Testament Christianity, but, 
as will be seen later, it is in effect outspokenly material, ir- 
religious and even actively anti-religious. 

Socialism received its first clear and intelligent formula- 
tion at the hands of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both 
Germans, although Marx was of Jewish descent. In 1847 
these two men reorganized under the name "Communist 
League" a society of Socialists already in existence in Lon- 
don. The "Manifesto of the Communist League" issued by 
these two men in 1848 was the first real proclamation of a 
Socialism with outspoken revolutionary and international 
aims. It demanded that the laboring-classes should, after 
seizure of political might, "by despotic interference with 
the property rights and methods of production of the bour- 
geoisie, little by little take from them all capital and central- 
ize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, 
i. e., in the hands of the proletariat organized as the ruling- 
class." Marx and Engels recommended therefore the ex- 
propriation of real estate, the confiscation of the property 
of all emigrants and the centralization in the hands of the 
state of all means of credit (banks) and transportation. 

The dominant idea of the Socialism of this period was 
that set forth by Marx in his book. Das Kapital, which be- 
came the textbook of the movement. It was, in brief, that all 
wealth is produced by labor, and that the surplus above the 
amount necessary for the bare existence of the laborers is 
appropriated by the capitalists. Marx's admirers have often 

^Die Quintessenz des Sozialismus, by Schaffle. 



endeavored to show that the communism advocated by him 
in these first years was not the violent communism that has 
eventuated in the last years in Bolshevism and kindred move- 
ments under other names. The question is of only academic 
interest, in view of the fact that Marx himself later realized 
that existing institutions could not so easily be overturned 
as he had hoped and believed in 1848. Engels had also come 
to a realization of the same fact, and in 1872, when the two 
men prepared a new edition of the Manifesto of twenty-four 
years earlier, they admitted frankly : 

"The practical application of these principles will always 
and everywhere depend upon historically existing condi- 
tions, and we therefore lay no especial stress upon the revo- 
lutionary measures proposed. In the face of the tremendous 
development of industry and of the organization of the labor- 
ing-classes accompanying this development, as well as in 
view of practical experience, this program is already in 
part antiquated. The Commune (of 1871 in Paris) has sup- 
plied the proof that the laboring-class cannot simply take 
possession of the machinery of state and set it in motion for 
its own purposes." 

This awakening, however, came, as has been pointed out, 
nearly a quarter of a century after the founding of a So- 
cialist kindergarten which openly taught revolution. In its 
first years this kindergarten concerned itself only with na- 
tional (German) matters, and was only indirectly a menace 
to other countries by its tendency to awaken a spirit of un- 
rest among the laboring-classes and to set an example which 
might prove contagious. In 1864, howev^er, the Internatio- 
nale was founded with the cooperation of Marx and Engels, 
and Socialism became a movement which directly concerned 
all the states of the world. 

This development of Socialism was logical and natural, 
for its creed was essentially and in its origins international. 
It had originarted in England in the days of the inhuman 
exploitation of labor, and especially child-labor, by con- 
scienceless and greedy capitalists. It had been tried out in 
France. Prominent among its advocates were many Rus- 
sians, notably Michael Bakunin, who later became an an- 



archist. Perhaps the majority of its advocates on the conti- 
nent were Jews or of Jewish descent, for no other race has 
ever been so truly international and so little bound by state 
lines. The Internationale had been in the air for years before 
it was actually organized; that organization was delayed 
for sixteen years by no means indicates that the idea was 
new in 1864. 

The basic idea of the Internationale has already been re- 
ferred to. It accepted as a working-creed the biblical doc- 
trine that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men," 
but it diregarded the further declaration in the same verse 
of the Scriptures that He "hath determined the bounds of 
their habitation." The Socialist creed teaches the brother- 
hood of man and the equality of all men irrespective of race, 
color or belief. The inescapable corollary of this creed is that 
patriotism, understood as unreasoning devotion to the real 
or supposed interests of the state, cannot be encouraged or 
even suffered. And this standpoint necessarily involves fur- 
ther the eventual obliteration of the state itself, for any 
state's chief reason for existence in a non-altruistic world 
is the securing of special privileges, benefits, advantages and 
protection for its own citizens, without consideration for the 
inhabitants of other states. If this exercise of its power be 
prohibited, the state's reason for existence is greatly dimin- 
ished. Indeed, it can have virtually only a social mission 
left, and a social mission pure and simple cannot inspire a 
high degree of patriotism. 

Many non-Socialist thinkers have perceived the antithesis 
between the doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man 
and the particularism of national patriotism. Bjornstjerne 
Bjornson wrote : " Patriotism is a stage of transition." This 
doctrine may come as a shock to the average reader, yet it 
is undoubtedly a prophetic and accurate statement of what 
will some day be generally accepted. Thoughtfully consid- 
ered, the idea will be found less shocking than it at first ap- 
pears. Neither Bjornson nor any other non-Socialist con- 
templates the abandonment of patriotism and state lines ex- 
cept by natural development. The world, in other words, 
is in a transitional stage, and when this transition shall have 



been completed it will find a world where the egoism of 
national patriotism has made way for the altruism of inter- 
nationalism. And this will have been accomplished without 
violent revolutionary changes, but merely by a natural and 
peaceful evolutionary development. 

Against such a development, if it come in the manner de- 
scribed and anticipated, nobody can properly protest. But 
the Socialists of the international school — and this is what 
makes international Socialism a menace to all governments 
and gradually but surely undermined the German state — 
will not wait upon the slow processes of transition. Upon 
peoples for whom the flags of their respective countries are 
still emblems of interests transcending any conceivable in- 
terests of peoples outside their own state boundaries, em- 
blems of an idea which must be unquestioningly and un- 
thinkingly accepted and against which no dictates of the 
brotherhood of other men or the welfare of other human 
beings have any claim to consideration, the Socialists would 
impose over night their idea of a world without artificial 
state lines, and would substitute the red flag for those em- 
blems which the majority of all mankind still reverence and 
adore. It requires no profound thinking to realize that such 
a change must be preceded by a long period of preparation 
if anarchy of production and distribution is to be avoided. 
To impose the rule of an international proletariat under the 
present social conditions means chaos. The world has seen 
this exemplified in Russia, and yet Russia, where the social 
structure was comparatively simple and industry neither 
complex nor widely developed, was the country where, if 
anywhere today, such an experiment might have succeeded. 

Socialist leaders, including even the internationalists, have 
perceived this. The murdered Jaures saw it clearly. But in 
the very nature of things, the vast majority of the adherents 
of these doctrines are not profound thinkers. Socialism natu- 
rally recruits itself from the lower classes, and it is no dis- 
paragement to these to say that they are the least educated. 



Even in states where the higher institutions of learning are 
free — and there are very few such places — the ability of the 
poor man's son to attend them is limited by the necessity rest- 
ing upon him to make his own living or to contribute to the 
support of his family. The tenets of national Socialism natur- 
ally appeal to the young man, who feels that he and his 
fellows are being exploited by those who own the "instru- 
ments of production," and who sees himself barred from the 
educational advantages which wealth gives. From the ac- 
ceptance of the economic tenets of national Socialism to ad- 
vocacy of internationalism is but a small step, easy to take 
for one who, in joining the Socialist party, finds himself 
the associate of men who address him as "comrade" and 
who look forward to a day when all men, white, black or 
yellow, shall also be comrades under one flag and enlisted 
in one cause — the cause of common humanity. These men 
realize no more than himself the fact that existing social 
conditions are the result of historical development and that 
they cannot be violently and artificially altered without de- 
stroying the delicate balance of the whole machine. And 
since this is the state of mind of the majority of the "com- 
rades," even the wisest leaders can apply the brakes only 
with great moderation, for the leader who lags too far be- 
hind the majority of his party ceases to be a leader and finds 
his place taken by less intelligent or less scrupulous men. 

Ferdinand Lassalle, the brilliant but erratic young man 
who organized the first Socialist party in Germany, was a 
national Socialist. His party grew slowly at first, and in 
1864, when he died, it had but 4,600 members. In 1863 
Marx aided by August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht,^ 
formed the rival Confederation of German Unions upon an 
internationalistic basis. This organization joined the Inter- 
nationale at its congress in Nuremburg in 1868. The parties 
of Marx and Lassalle maintained their separate identities 
until 1875, when they effected a fusion at a congress in 

'Called "the elder Liebknecht" to distinguish him from his son Karl 
Liebknecht, who was killed while under arrest in Berlin in the winter of 1910. 



Gotha. The Marx adherents numbered at that time about 
9,000 men and the Lassalle adherents some 15,000, but the 
latter had already virtually accepted the doctrines of inter- 
national Socialism and the Internationale, and the German 
Socialists had until the breaking out of the World War main- 
tained their place as the apostles and leaders of internation- 

Socialism first showed itself as a political factor in Ger- 
many in 1867, when five Socialists were elected to the North 
German Diet. Two Genossen^ were sent to the first Reichs- 
tag in 1 87 1, with a popular vote of 120,000, and six years 
later nearly a half million red votes were polled and twelve 
Socialists took their seats in the Reichstag. The voting- 
strength of the party in Berlin alone increased from 6,700 
in 1 87 1 to 57,500 in 1877, or almost ninefold. 

A propaganda of tremendous extent and extreme ability 
was carried on. No bourgeois German politician except Bis- 
marck ever had such a keen appreciation of the power of the 
printed word as did those responsible for Socialism's mis- 
sionary work. Daily newspapers, weekly periodicals and 
monthly magazines were established, and German Social- 
ism was soon in possession of the most extensive and best 
conducted Socialist press in the world. The result was two- 
fold : the press contributed mightily to the spreading of its 
party's doctrines and at the same time furnished a school in 
which were educated the majority of the party leaders. Prob- 
ably three quarters of the men who afterward became promi- 
nent in the party owed their rise and, to a great extent, their 
general education to their service on the editorial staffs of 
their party's press. By intelligent reports and special articles 
on news of interest to all members of the Internationale, 
whether German, French, English, or of what nationality 
they might be, this press made itself indispensable to the 
leaders of that movement all over the world, and contributed 
greatly to influencing the ideas of the Socialists of other 

Bismarck's clear political vision saw the menace in a 

^Genosse, comrade, is the term by which all German-speaking Socialists 
address each other. 



movement which openly aimed at the establishment of a 
German republic and at the eventual overthrow of all bour- 
geois governments and the elimination of local patriotism 
and state lines. In 1878 he secured from the Reichstag the 
enactment of the famous Ausnahmegesetze or special laws, 
directed against the Socialists. They forbade Socialist pub- 
lications and literature in general, prohibited the holding of 
Socialist meetings or the making of speeches by adherents 
of the party. Even the circulation of Socialist literature was 
prohibited. The Ausnahmegesetze legalized as an imperial 
measure the treatment that had already been meted out to 
Socialists in various states of the Empire. Following the 
Gotha congress in 1875, fifty-one delegates to the congress 
were sent to prison. Wilhelm Liebknecht received a sentence 
of three years and eight months and Bebel of two years and 
eleven months. In Saxony, from 1870 to 1875, fifty Social- 
ists underwent prison sentences aggregating more than forty 

But Socialism throve on oppression. In politics, as in re- 
ligion, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. It 
would be praising any statesman of the '8o's too highly to 
say that he had learned that ideas cannot be combated with 
brute force, for the rulers of the world have not yet learned 
it. But Bismarck did perceive that, to give any promise of 
success, opposition to Socialism must be based upon con- 
structive statesmanship. To many of the party's demands 
no objection could be made by intelligent society. And so, 
in the address from the throne in 1881, an extended pro- 
gram of state socialism was presented. With the enactment 
of this program into law Germany took the first important 
step ahead along the road of state Socialism, and all her 
legislation for the next thirty years was profoundly influ- 
enced by socialistic thought, in part because of a recogni- 
tion of the wisdom of some of Socialism's tenets, in part be- 
cause of a desire to draw the party's teeth by depriving it 
of campaign material. 

More than a decade earlier the Catholic Church in Ger- 
many had recognized the threatening danger and sought to 
counteract it by the organization of Catholic labor unions. 



It succeeded much better in its purpose than did the gov- 
ernment, which is not to be wondered at, since the temporal 
affairs of the church have always been administered more 
intelligently than have the state affairs of any of the world's 
governments. For many years Socialism made compara- 
tively small gains in Roman Catholic districts. A similar 
effort by the Lutheran (State) Church in 1878 accom- 
plished little, and Bismarck's state Socialism also accom- 
plished little to stop the spread of Socialist doctrines. 

Kaiser Wilheim II early realized the menace to the state 
of these enemies of patriotism and of all bourgeois states. 
In a much quoted speech he termed the Socialists vaterlands- 
lose Gesellen (fellows without a Fatherland). The des- 
ignation stung all German Socialists, who, ready as they 
were in theory to disavow all attachment to any state, did 
not relish this kind of public denunciation by their monarch. 
The word Gesellen, too, when used in this sense has an un- 
pleasant connotation. 

The Socialists, whose political tenets necessarily made 
them opponents of royalty and monarchism everywhere, 
were particularly embittered against a Kaiser whose con- 
tempt for them was so openly expressed. Their press, which 
consistently referred to him baldly as "Wilheim IF' sailed 
as closely into the wind of lese majeste as possible, and some- 
times too closely. Leading Socialist papers had their special 
Sitzredacteur, or "sitting-editor," whose sole function con- 
sisted in "sitting out" jail sentences for insulting the Kaiser 
or other persons in authority. Police officials, taking their 
keynote from the Kaiser, prosecuted and persecuted So- 
cialists relentlessly and unintelligently. Funeral proces- 
sions were stopped to permit policemen to remove red 
streamers and ribbons from bouquets on the coflSns, and 
graves were similarly desecrated if the friends or mourn- 
ers had ventured to bind their floral offerings with the red 
of revolutionary Socialism. The laws authorizing police 
supervision of all public meetings were relentlessly en- 
forced against Socialists, and their gatherings were dis- 
solved by the police-official present at the least suggestion 
of criticism of the authorities. There was no practical 



remedy against this abuse of power. An appeal to the courts 
was possible, but a decision in June that a meeting in the 
preceding January had been illegally dissolved did not 
greatly help matters. Socialist meetings could not be held in 
halls belonging to a government or municipality, and the 
Socialists often or perhaps generally found it impossible to 
secure meeting-places in districts where the Conservatives 
or National Liberals were in control. Federal, state and 
municipal employees were forbidden to subscribe for So- 
cialist publications, or to belong to that party. 

The extent of these persecutions is indicated by a report 
made to the Socialist congress at Halle in 1890, shortly 
after the Ausnahmegesetze had expired by limitation, after 
a vain attempt had been made to get the Reichstag to re- 
enact them. In the twelve years that the law had been in 
operation, 155 journals and i,2(X> books and pamphlets had 
been prohibited; 900 members of the party had been ban- 
ished from Germany without trial; 1,500 had been arrested 
on various charges and 300 of these punished for violations 
of the law. 

The Ausnahmegesetze failed of their purpose just as com- 
pletely as did the Six Acts^ of 1820 in England. Even in 
1878, the very year these laws were enacted, the Socialists 
polled more votes than ever before. In 1890 their total popu- 
lar vote in the Empire was 1,427,000, which was larger 
than the vote cast for any other single party. They should 
have had eighty members in that year's Reichstag, but the 
shift in population and consequent disproportionateness of 
the election districts kept the number of Socialist deputies 
down to thirty-seven. At the Reichstag election of 1893 
their popular vote was 1,800,000, with forty-four deputies. 

It may be seriously questioned whether Bismarck's un- 
fortunate legislation did not actually operate to increase 
the Socialists' strength. Certain it is that it intensified the 
feeling of bitterness against the government, by men 

^These acts were passed by Parliament after the Manchester Riots of 1819: 
to prevent seditious meetings for a discussion of subjects connected with 
church or state; to subject cheap periodical pamphlets on political subjects 
to a duty ; to give magistrates the power of entering houses, for the purpose 
of seizing arms believed to be collected for unlawful purposes. 



whose very creed compelled them to regard as their natural 
enemy even the most beneficent bourgeois government, and 
who saw themselves stamped as Pariahs. This feeling found 
expression at the party's congress in 1880 at Wyden, when 
a sentence of the program declaring that the party's aim 
should be furthered "by every lawful means" was changed 
to read, "by every means." It must in fairness be recorded, 
however, that the revolutionary threat of this change ap- 
peared to have no effect on the subsequent attitude of the 
party leaders or their followers. The record of German So- 
cialism is remarkably free from violence and sabotage, and 
the revolution of 1918 was, as we shall see, the work of men 
of a different stamp from the elder Liebknecht and the 
sturdy and honest Bebel. 

Two great factors in the growth of Socialism in Germany 
remain to be described. These were, first, the peculiar ten- 
dency of the Teutonic mind, already mentioned, to abstract 
philosophical thought, without regard to practicalities, and, 
second, the accident that the labor-union movement in Ger- 
many was a child of party- Socialism. 

Socialism, in the last analysis, is nearer to New Testament 
Christianity than is any other politico-economic creed, and 
the professions and habits of thought of nearly all men in 
enlightened countries are determined or at least powerfully 
influenced by the precepts of Christ, no matter how far their 
practices may depart from these precepts. Few even of those 
most strongly opposed to Socialisrn oppose it on ethical 
grounds. Their opposition is based on the conviction that it 
is unworkable and impracticable; that it fails to take into 
consideration the real mainsprings of human action and con- 
duct as society is today constituted. In an ideally altruistic 
society, they admit, it would be feasible, but, again, such a 
society would have no need of it. In other words, the fun- 
damental objection is the objection of the practical man. 
Whether his objection is insuperable it is no part of the pur- 
pose of the writer to discuss. What it is desired to make 
plain is that Socialism appeals strongly to the dreamer, the 
closet-philosopher who concerns himself with abstract ethi- 
cal questions without regard to their practicality or practica- 



bility as applied to the economic life of an imperfect society. 
And there are more men of this type in Germany than in 
any other country. 

Loosely and inefficiently organized labor unions had ex- 
isted in Germany before the birth of the Socialist move- 
ment, but they existed independently of each other and 
played but a limited role. The first labor organization of 
national scope came on May 23, 1863, at Leipsic, when Las- 
salle was instrumental in founding Der allgemeine deutsche 
Arheiterverein (National German Workmen's Union). Or- 
ganized labor, thus definitely committed to Socialism, re- 
mained Socialist. To become a member of a labor union in 
Germany — or generally anywhere on the continent — means 
becoming an enrolled member of the Socialist party at the 
same time. The only non-Socialist labor organizations in 
Germany were the Catholic Hirsch-Duncker unions, organ- 
ized at the instance of the Roman Catholic Church to prevent 
the spread of Socialism. These were boycotted by all So- 
cialists, who termed them the "yellow unions," and regarded 
them as union workmen in America regard non-union work- 
ers. It goes without saying that a political party which 
automatically enrolls in its membership all workmen who 
join a labor union cannot help becoming powerful. 

That international Socialism is inimical to nationalism 
and patriotism has already been pointed out, but a word 
remains to be said on this subject with reference to specific 
German conditions. We have already seen how the Ger- 
many of the beginning of the nineteenth century was a loose 
aggregation of more than three hundred dynasties, most of 
which were petty principalities. The heritage of that time 
was a narrowly limited state patriotism which the Germans 
termed Particularismus, or particularism. Let the American 
reader assume that the State of Texas had originally con- 
sisted of three hundred separate states, each with its own 
government, and with customs and dialects varying greatly 
in the north and south. Assume further that, after seventy 
years filled with warfare and political strife, these states 
had been re-formed into twenty-six states, with the ruler of 
the most powerful at the head of the new federation, and 



that several of the twenty-six states had reserved control 
over their posts, telegraphs, railways and customs as the 
price for joining the federation. Even then he will have but 
a hazy picture of the handicaps with which the Imperial 
German Government had to contend. 

Particularism was to the last the curse and weakness of 
the German Empire. The Prussian regarded himself first 
as a Prussian and only in second place as a German. The 
Bavarian was more deeply thrilled by the white-and-blue 
banner of his state than by the black-white-red of the Em- 
pire. The republican Hamburger thanked the Providence 
that did not require him to live across the Elbe in the city 
of Altona, which was Prussian, and the inhabitants of the 
former kingdoms, duchies and principalities of Western 
Germany that became a part of Prussia during the decades 
preceding the formation of the Empire regularly referred 
to themselves as Muss-Preussen, that is, "must-Prussians," 
or Prussians by compulsion. 

The attempt to stretch this narrowly localized patriotism 
to make it cover the whole Empire could not but result in a 
seriously diluted product, which offered a favorable culture- 
medium for the bacillus of internationalism. And in any 
event, to apply the standards of abstract ethical reasoning 
to patriotism is fatal. The result may be to leave a residue 
of traditional and racial attachment to one's state, but that 
is not sufficient, in the present stage of human society, for 
the maintenance of a strong government. Patriotism of the 
my-country-right-or-wrong type must, like revealed reli- 
gion, be accepted on faith. German patriotism was never of 
this extreme type, and in attacking it the Socialists made 
greater headway than would have been the case in most 

The Socialists had thus seriously weakened the state at 
two vital points. By their continuous advocacy of a republic 
and their obstructive tactics they had impaired to a consid- 
erable extent the authority of the state, and autocratic gov- 
ernment rests upon authority. By their internationalist teach- 
ings they had shaken the foundations of patriotism. And 
there is still another count against them. 



Opponents of Socialism accuse its advocates of being ene- 
mies of the Christian religion and the church. Socialists de- 
clare in reply that Socialism, being a purely economic school 
of thought, does not concern itself with religious matters 
in any manner. They point out further that the programs 
of Socialist parties in all lands expressly declare religion to 
be a private matter and one about which the party does not 
concern itself. This is only part of the truth. It is true that 
Socialism officially regards religion as a private matter, 
but German Socialism — and the Socialism of other lands as 
well — is in practice the bitter enemy of the organized church. 
There is an abundance of evidence to prove this assertion, 
but the following quotations will suffice. 

August Bebel, one of the founders of German Socialism, 
said : 

"We aim in the domain of politics at Republicanism, in 
the domain of economics at Socialism, and in the domain of 
what is today called religion at Atheism."^ 

Vorwdrts, central organ of German Socialism, wrote on 
July I, 1892: 

"We would fight churches and preachers even if the 
preachers and curates were the most conscientious of men." 

Vorwdrts contrived also to add insult to the statement by 
using the word Pfajfen for preachers, a word having a con- 
temptuous implication in this sense throughout Northern 

Karl Kautsky, for years one of the intellectual leaders of 
the Socialist movement in Germany and one of its ablest 
and most representative publicists, said :^ 

"The one-sided battle against the congregations, as it is 
being carried on today in France, is merely a pruning of 
the boughs of the tree, which then merely flourishes all the 
more strongly. The ax must be laid to the roots." 

Genosse Dr. Erdmann, writing after the war had begun, 

"We have no occasion to conceal the fact that Social-De- 

*Quoted by W. H. Dawson in German Socialism and Ferdinand Lassalle, 
ch. 15. 

'Die neue Zeit, 1903, vol. i, p. 506. 



mocracy is hostile to the church — whether Catholic or Evan- 
gelical — and that we present our demands with special de- 
cision because we know that we shall thus break the power 
of the church."^ 

Vorwdrts headlined an article in January, 191 8: "All re- 
ligious systems are enemies of women." (The Socialists 
nevertheless had the effrontery during the campaign pre- 
ceding the election of delegates to the National Assembly 
at Weimar in January to put out a placard saying : " Women, 
protect your religion ! Vote for the Social-Democratic party 
of Germany!"). 

The initial activities of the Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Councils in Hamburg and Brunswick following the revolu- 
tion were correctly described in a speech made in the Nation- 
al Assembly on March 11, 19 19, by Deputy Mumm. He said : 

"The revolutionary government in Hamburg has retained 
the bordells and abolished religious instruction. In Bruns- 
wick the school children of the capital, 1,500 in number, 
were assembled in the Cathedral by the people's commis- 
sioners for an anti-Christian Christmas celebration." 

At the same session, Deputy Hellmann, a member of the 
Majority (parent) Socialist party, said in a speech in an- 
swer to Mumm : 

"The church, like all social institutions, is subject to con- 
stant change, and will eventually disappear." 

Quotations like the preceding could be multiplied indefi- 
nitely, as could also acts consistent with these anti-religious 
views. The first Minister of Cults {Kultusminister) ap- 
pointed by the revolutionary government in Prussia was 
Adolf Hoffmann, a professed atheist, although this min- 
istry has charge of the affairs of the church. 

The Socialist literature and press in all countries abound 
in anti-religious utterances. To quote one is to give a 
sample of all. The Social-Dentokraten of Stockholm, official 
organ of the Swedish Socialists and reckoned among the 
sanest, ablest and most conservative of all Social-Demo- 
cratic press organs, forgets, too, that religion is a private 
matter. It reports a sermon by Archbishop Soderblom, 

'Sozialistische Monatshefte, 191S, vol. i, p. 516. 



wherein the speaker declared that the church must have 
enough expansive force to conquer the masses who are 
now coming to power in various lands, and adds this char- 
acteristic comment: 

"The Archbishop is a brave man who is not afraid to in- 
stall a motor in the venerable but antiquated skiff from the 
Lake of Genesareth. If only the boat will hold him up!" 

This attitude of Socialism is comprehensible and logical, 
for no student of world history can deny that an established 
church has been in all ages and still is one of the strongest 
bulwarks of an autocratic state. From the very dawn of 
organized government, centuries before the Christian era, 
the priesthood, where it did not actually govern, has power- 
fully upheld the arm of civil authority and property rights. 
Even in democratic England it teaches the child to "be con- 
tent in the station whereto it has pleased God to call me," and 
is thus a factor in upholding the class distinctions against 
which Socialism's whole campaign is directed. In opposing 
the church as an institution Social-Democracy is thus mere- 
ly true to its cardinal tenets. If the power of the church be 
destroyed or materially weakened, a serious blow is dealt to 
the government which that church supported. People who, 
at the command of the church, have been unquestioningly 
rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, begin to 
ask themselves: "But what things are Caesar's?" And when 
the people begin seriously to consider this question, autoc- 
racy is doomed. 

The effect of the Socialist campaign against the church 
began to make itself felt a decade or more before the war 
began. Withdrawals from the church became so frequent 
that the government was seriously concerned. The number 
of those who termed themselves Dissident (dissenter) or 
religionslos (without any religion) increased rapidly. Cler- 
gymen preached the doctrines of Christ to empty benches; 
religionslose Genossen preached the doctrines of class war- 
fare and disloyalty to state to Socialist audiences that filled 
their meeting-places. 

Thus the cancer ate its way into the vitals of the Empire. 



Germany under the "Hunger- 

THE men whose duty it was to take every measure to 
increase Germany's preparedness for war and her 
ability to carry on an extended conflict had long 
realized that the Empire had one very vulnerable point. 
This was her inability to feed and clothe her inhabitants and 
her consequent dependence on imports of foodstuffs and raw 

Germany in the days of her greatness occupied so large 
a place in the sun that one is prone to forget that this mighty 
empire was erected on an area much less than that of the 
State of Texas. Texas, with 262,290 square miles, was 
53,666 square miles greater than the whole German Empire. 
And Germany's population was two-thirds that of the en- 
tire United States! Germany was, moreover, comparatively 
poor in natural resources. The March (Province) Branden- 
burg, in which Berlin is situated, is little more than a sand- 
heap, and there are other sections whose soil is poor and 
infertile. Nor was it, like America, virgin soil; on the con- 
trary, it had been cultivated for centuries. 

Driven by stern necessity, the Germans became the most 
intelligent and successful farmers of the world. Their aver- 
age yields of all crops per acre exceeded those of any other 
country, and were from one and a half to two times as large 
as the average yield in the United States. The German 
farmer raised two and one half times more potatoes per 
acre than the average for the United States. He was aided 
by an adequate supply of cheap farm labor and by unlimited 
supplies of potash at low prices, since Germany, among her 



few important natural resources, possessed a virtual mo- 
nopoly of the world's potash supply. 

Try as they would, however, the German farmers could 
not feed and clothe more than about forty of Germany's 
nearly seventy millions. Even this was a tremendous ac- 
complishment, which can be the better appreciated if one 
attempts to picture the State of Texas feeding and clothing 
four of every ten inhabitants of the United States. Strenuous 
efforts were made by the German Government to increase 
this proportion. Moorlands were reclaimed and extensive 
projects for such reclamation were being prepared when the 
war came. The odds were too great, however, and the steady 
shift of population toward the cities made it increasingly 
difficult to cultivate all the available land and likewise in- 
creased the arnount of food required, since there is an in- 
evitable wastage in transportation. What this shift of popu- 
lation amounted to is indicated by the fact that whereas 
the aggregate population of the rural districts in 1871 was 
63.9 per cent of the total population, it was but 40 per cent 
in 1910. During the same period the percentage of the to- 
tal population living in cities of 100,000 population or over 
had increased from 4.8 to 21.3. 

In the most favorable circumstances about three-sevenths 
of the food needed by Germany must be imported. The gov- 
ernment had realized that a war on two jfronts would in- 
volve a partial blockade, but neither the German Govern- 
ment nor any other government did or could foresee that a 
war would come which would completely encircle Germany 
in effect and make an absolute blockade possible. Even if 
this had been realized it would have made no essential dif- 
ference, for it must always have remained impossible for 
Germany to become self-supporting. 

Another factor increased the difficulties of provisioning 
the people. The war, by taking hundreds of able-bodied men 
and the best horses from the farms, made it from the begin- 
ning impossible to farm as intensively as under normal con- 
ditions, and resulted even in the second summer of the war 
in a greatly reduced acreage of important crops. Livestock, 
depleted greatly by slaughtering and by lack of fodder, no 



longer produced as much manure as formerly, and one of 
the main secrets of the intelligent farming-methods of the 
Germans was the lavish use of fertilizer. And thus, at a 
time when even the maximum production would have been 
insufficient, a production far below the normal average was 
being secured. 

Germany's dependence on importations is shown by the 
import statistics for 191 3. The figures are in millions of 

Cereals 1037. 

Eggs 188.2 

Fruits 148.8 

Fish 135.9 

Wheaten products 130.3 

Animal fats 118.9 
Butter * 1 18.7 

Rice 103.9 

Southern fruits 10 1.2 

Meats 81.4 

Live animals . 291.6 

Coffee 219.7 

Cacao 67.1 

It will be observed that the importations of cereals 
(bread-stuffs and maize) alone amounted to roughly $260,- 
000,000, without the further item of "wheaten products" for 

Fodder for animals was also imported in large quantities. 
The figures for cereals include large amounts of Indian 
corn, and oilcakes were also imported in the same year to 
the value of more than $29,600,000. 

Germany was no more able to clothe and shoe her inhabi- 
tants than she was to feed them. Further imports for 191 3 
were (in millions of marks) : 

Cotton 664. 1 

Wool 5 1 1 • 7 

Hides and skins 672.4 

Cotton yarn 116.2 



Flax and hemp II4-4 

Woolen yarn io8. 

Imports of chemicals and drugs exceeded $105,000,000; 
of copper, $86,000,000; of rubber and gutta-percha, $36,- 
500,000; of leaf-tobacco, $43,500,000; of jute, $23,500,000; 
of petroleum, $17,400,000. 

Of foodstuffs, Germany exported only sugar and vegeta- 
ble oils in any considerable quantities. The primarily in- 
dustrial character of the country was evidenced by her ex- 
portations of manufactures, which amounted in 191 3 to a 
total of $1,598,950,000, and even to make these exportations 
possible she had imported raw materials aggregating more 
than $1,250,000,000. 

The war came, and Germany was speedily thrown on her 
own resources. In the first months various neutrals, including 
the United States, succeeded in sending some foodstuffs and 
raw materials into the beleaguered land, but the blockade 
rapidly tightened until only the Scandinavian countries, 
Holland, and Switzerland could not be reached directly by 
it. Sweden, with a production insufficient for her own needs, 
soon found it necessary to stop all exports to Germany except 
of certain so-called "compensation articles," consisting 
chiefly of paper pulp and iron ore. A continuance of these 
exports was necessary, since Germany required payment in 
wares for articles which Sweden needed and could not secure 
elsewhere. The same was true of the other neutral countries 
mentioned. Denmark continued to the last to export food- 
stuffs to Germany, but she exported the same quantity of 
these wares to England. All the exports of foodstuffs and 
raw materials from all the neutrals during the war were but 
a drop in the bucket compared with the vast needs of a 
people of seventy millions waging war, and they played a 
negligible part in its course. 

Although the German Government was confident that the 
war would last but a few months, its first food-conservation 
order followed on the heels of the mobilization. The govern- 
ment took over all supplies of breadstuffs and established a 
weekly ration of four metric pounds per person (about sev- 
enty ounces). Other similar measures followed fast. Meat 



was rationed, the weekly allowance varying from six to nine 
ounces in different parts of the Empire.-^ The Germans were 
not great meat-eaters, except in the cities. The average 
peasant ate meat on Sundays, and only occasionally in the 
middle of the week, and the ration fixed would have been 
adequate but for one thing. This was the disappearance of 
fats, particularly lard, from the market. The Germans con- 
sumed great quantities of fats, which took the place of meat 
to a large extent. They now found themselves limited to two 
ounces of butter, lard, and margarine together per week. 
Pork, bacon, and ham were unobtainable, and the other 
meats which made up the weekly ration were lean and 
stringy, for there were no longer American oilcakes and 
maize for the cattle, and the government had forbidden the 
use of potatoes, rye or wheat as fodder. There had been 
some twenty-four million swine in Germany at the outbreak 
of the war. There were but four million left at the end. Cattle 
were butchered indiscriminately because there was no fod- 
der, and the survivors, undernourished, gave less and poorer 
meat per unit than normally. 

How great a part milk pays in the feeding of any people 
is not generally realized. In the United States recent esti- 
mates are that milk in its various forms makes up no less 
than ninteen per cent of the entire food consumed. The per- 
centage was doubtless much greater in Germany, where, as 
in all European countries, much more cheese is eaten per 
capita than in America. What the German farmer calls 
Kraftfutter, such concentrated fodder as oilcakes, maize- 
meal, etc., had to be imported, since none of these things 
were produced in Germany. The annual average of such 
importations in the years just preceding the war reached 
more than five million metric tons, and these importations 
were virtually all cut off before the end of 191 7. 

The result was that the supply of milk felloff by nearly 
one half. Only very young children, invalids, women in 
childbed and the aged were permitted to have any milk at 

*This allowance had dropped to less than five ounces in Prussia in the 
last months of the war. 



all, and that only in insufficient quantities and of low grade. 
The city of Chemnitz boasted of the fact that it had been 
able at all times to supply a quarter of a liter (less than half 
a pint!) daily to every child under eight. That this should 
be considered worth boasting about indicates dimly what 
the conditions must have been elsewhere. 

The value of eggs as protein-furnishing food is well 
known, but even here Germany was dependent upon other 
countries — chiefly Russia — for two-fifths of her entire con- 
sumption. Available imports dropped to a tenth of the pre- 
war figures, and the domestic production fell off greatly, the 
hens having been killed for food and also because of lack of 

Restriction followed upon restriction, and every change 
was for the worse. The Kriegsbrot (war bread) was di- 
rected to be made with twenty per cent of potatoes or pota- 
to flour and rye. Barley flour was later added. Wheat and 
rye are ordinarily milled out around 70 to 75 per cent, but 
were now milled to 94 per cent. The bread- ration was re- 
duced. The sugar- ration was set at i^ pounds monthly. 
American housewives thought themselves severely restricted 
when sugar was sold in pound packages and they could buy 
as much heavy molasses, corn syrups and maple syrup as they 
desired, but the i^ -pound allowance of the German house- 
wife represented the sum total of all sweets available per 

By the autumn of 191 6 conditions had become all but 
desperate. It is difficult for one who has not experienced it 
personally to realize what it means to subsist without rice, 
cereals such as macaroni, oatmeal, or butter, lard or oil (for 
two ounces of these articles are little better than none) ; to 
be limited to one. egg each three weeks, or to five pounds of 
potatoes weekly ; to have no milk for kitchen use, and even 
no spices ; to steep basswood blossoms as a substitute for tea 
and use dandelion roots or roasted acorns as coffee for which 
there is neither milk nor sugar, and only a limited supply 
of saccharine. Germany had been a country of many and 
cheap varieties of cheese, and these took the place of meat 



to a great extent. Cheese disappeared entirely in August, 
1916, and could not again be had. 

In common with most European peoples, the Germans 
had eaten great quantities of fish, both fresh and salted or 
smoked. The bulk of the salted and smoked fish had come 
from Scandinavia and England, and the blockade cut off 
this supply. The North Sea was in the war-zone, and the 
German fishermen could not venture out to the good fishing- 
grounds. The German fishermen of the Baltic had, like their 
North Seacoast brethren, been called to the colors in great 
numbers. Their nets could not be repaired or renewed be- 
cause there was no linen available. Fresh fish disappeared 
from view, and supplies of preserved fish diminished so 
greatly that it was possible to secure a small portion only 
every third or fourth week. Even this trifling ration could 
not always be maintained. 

No German will ever forget the terrible Kohlriibenwinter 
(turnip winter) of 1916-17. It took its name from the fact 
that potatoes were for many weeks unobtainable, and the 
only substitute that could be had was coarse fodder-turnips. 
The lack of potatoes and other vegetables increased the con- 
sumption of bread, and even in the case of the better-situ- 
ated families the ration was insufficient. The writer has 
seen his own children come into the house from their play, 
hungry and asking for a slice of bread, and go back to their 
games with a piece of turnip because there was no bread to 
give them. The situation of hard manual laborers was nat- 
urally even worse. 

The turnip-winter was one of unusual severity, and it 
was marked by a serious shortage of fuel. Thus the suffer- 
ings from the cold were added to the pangs of hunger. There 
was furthermore already an insufficiency of warm clothing. 
Articles of wear were strictly rationed, and the children of 
the poorer classes were inadequately clad. 

The minimum number of calories necessary for the nour- 
ishment of the average individual is, according to dietetic 
authorities, 3,000, and even this falls some 300 short of a 
full ration. Yet as early as December, 191 6, the caloric value 
of the complete rations of the German was 1,344, and, if 



the indigestibility and monotony of the fare be taken into 
account, even less. To be continuously hungry, to rise from 
the table hungry, to go to bed hungry, was the universal ex- 
perience of all but the very well-to-do. Not only was the 
food grossly insufficient in quantity and of poor quality, but 
the deadly monotony of the daily fare also contributed to 
break down the strength and, eventually, the very morale 
of the people. No fats being available, it was impossible to 
fry anything. From day to day the Germans sat down to 
boiled potatoes, boiled turnips and boiled cabbage, with an 
occasional piece of stringy boiled beef or mutton, and with 
the coarse and indigestible Kriegsbrot, in which fodder- 
turnips had by this time been substituted for potatoes. The 
quantity of even such food was limited. 

A little fruit would have varied this diet and been of 
great dietetic value, but there was no fruit. Wo hleiht das 
Obst (what has become of the fruit?) cried the people, voic- 
ing unconsciously the demands of their bodies. The govern- 
ment, which had imported $62,500,000 worth of fruit in 
1913, could do nothing. The comparatively few apples raised 
in Germany were mixed with pumpkins and carrots to make 
what was by courtesy called marmalade, and most of this 
went to the front, which also secured most of the smaller 
fruits. A two-pound can of preserved vegetables or fruits 
was sold to each family — not person — at Christmas time. 
This had to suffice for the year. 

A delegation of women called on the mayor of Schone- 
berg, one of the municipalities of Greater Berlin, and de- 
clared that they and their families were hungry and must 
have more to eat. 

"You will not be permitted to starve, but you must hun- 
ger," said the mayor.^ 

The other privations attendant upon hunger also played 
a great part' in breaking down the spirit of the people. In 
order to secure even the official food-pittance, it was neces- 
sary to stand in queues for hours at a time. The trifling al- 

^The mayor's statement contains in German a play on words : Ihr sollt 
nicht verhungern, aber hungern milsst Ihr. 



lowance of soap consisted of a substitute made largely of 
saponaceous clay. Starch was unobtainable, and there is a 
deep significance in the saying, "to take the starch out of 
one." The enormous consumption of tobacco at the front 
caused a serious shortage at home, and this added another 
straw to the burdens of the male part of the population. The 
shortage of cereals brought in its wake a dilution of the 
once famous German beer until it was little but colored and 
charged water, without any nourishment whatever. 

The physical effects of undernutrition and malnutrition 
made themselves felt in a manner which brought them home 
to every man. Working-capacity dropped to half the normal, 
or even less. Mortality increased by leaps and bounds, par- 
ticularly among the children and the aged. The death rate 
of children from i to 5 years of age increased 50 per cent; 
that of children from 5 to 15 by 55 per cent. In 191 7 alone 
this increased death rate among children from i to 1 5 years 
meant an excess of deaths over the normal of more than 
50,000 in the whole Empire. In the year 191 3, 40,374 deaths 
from tuberculosis were reported in German municipalities 
of 15,000 inhabitants or more. The same municipalities re- 
ported 41,800 deaths from tuberculosis in the first six months 
of 191 8, an increase of more than 100 per cent. In Berlin 
alone the death rate for all causes jumped from 13.48 per 
thousand for the first eight months of 191 3 to 20.05 fo^ the 
first eight months of 191 8. 

According to a report laid before the United Medical 
Societies in Berlin on December 18, 191 8, the "hunger block- 
ade" was responsible for 763,000 deaths in the Empire. 
These figures are doubtless largely based on speculation and 
probably too high, but one need not be a physician to know 
that years of malnutrition and undernutrition, especially in 
the case of children and the aged, mean a greatly increased 
death rate and particularly a great increase of tuberculosis. 
In addition to the excess deaths alleged by the German 
authorities to be directly due to the blockade, there were 
nearly 150,000 deaths from Spanish influenza in 191 8. These 
have not been reckoned among the 763,000, but it must be 



assumed that many would have withstood the attack had 
they not been weakened by the privations of the four war- 

The enthusiasm that had carried the people through the 
beginnings of their privations cooled gradually. No moral 
sentiments, even the most exalted, can prevail against hun- 
ger. Starving men will fight or steal to get a crust of bread, 
just as a drowning man clutches at a straw. There have 
been men in history whose patriotism or devotion to an idea 
has withstood the test of torture and starvation, but that 
these are the exception is shown by the fact that history has 
seen fit to record their deeds. The average man is not made 
of such stern stuff. Mens sana in corpore sano means plainly 
that there can be no healthy mind without a healthy body. 
Hungry men and women who see their children die for want 
of food naturally feel a bitter resentment which must find 
an object. They begin to ask themselves whether, after all, 
these sacrifices have been necessary, and to what end they 
have served. 

The first answer to the question. What has compelled 
these sacrifices was, of course, for everybody. The war. But 
who is responsible for The War? Germany's enemies, an- 
swered a part of the people. 

But there were two categories of Germans whose answer 
was another. On the one side were a few independent think- 
ers who had decided that Germany herself bore at least a 
large share of the responsibility; on the other side were 
those who had been taught by their leaders that all wars are 
the work of the capitalistic classes, and that existing gov- 
ernments everywhere are obstacles to the coming of a true 
universal brotherhood of man. These doctrines had been 
forgotten by even the Socialist leaders in the enthusiasm of 
the opening days of the struggle, but they had merely lain 
dormant, and now, as a result of sufferings and revolution- 
ary propaganda by radical Socialists, they awakened. And 
in awakening they spread to a class which had heretofore 
been comparatively free from their contagion. 

Socialism, and more especially that radical Socialism 
which finds its expression in Bolshevism, Communism and 



similar emanations, is especially the product of discontent, 
and discontent is engendered by suffering. The whole Ger- 
man people had suffered terribly, but two categories of one 
mighty class had undergone the greatest hardships. These 
were the Unterheamten and the Mittelbeamten, the govern- 
ment employees of the lowest and the middle classes. This 
was the common experience of all belligerent countries ex- 
cept the United States, which never even remotely realized 
anything of what the hardships of war mean. Wages of the 
laboring classes generally kept pace with the increasing 
prices of the necessaries of life, and in many instances out- 
stripped them. But the government, whose necessities were 
thus exploited by the makers of ammunition, the owners of 
small machine-shops and the hundreds of other categories 
of workers whose product was required for the conduct of 
the war, could not — or at least did not — grant corresponding 
increases of salary to its civil servants. The result was a 
curious social shift, particularly observable in the restaurants 
and resorts of the better class, whose clientele, even in the 
second year of the war, had come to be made up chiefly of 
men and women whose bearing and dress showed them to 
be manual workers. The slender remuneration of the Beam- 
ten had fallen so far behind the cost of living that they could 
neither frequent these resorts nor yet secure more than a 
bare minimum of necessaries. The result was that thousands 
of these loyal men and women, rendered desperate by their 
sufferings, began in their turn to ponder the doctrines which 
they had heard, but rejected in more prosperous times. Thus 
was the ground further prepared for the coming of the revo- 

There was yet another factor which played a great part 
in increasing the discontent of the masses. Not even the 
genius of the German Government for organization could 
assure an equitable distribution of available foodstuffs. Ex- 
cept where the supply could be seized or controlled at the 
source, as in the case of breadstuffs and one or two other 
products, the rationing system broke down. The result of the 
government's inability to get control of necessaries of life 
was the so-called Schleichhandel, literally "sneak trade," 



the illegitimate dealing in rationed wares. Heavy penalties 
were imposed for this trade, applicable alike to buyer and 
seller, and many prosecutions were conducted, but to no 
avail. The extent of the practice is indicated by a remark 
made by the police-president of a large German city, who 
declared that if every person who had violated the law re- 
garding illegitimate trade in foodstuffs were to be arrested, 
the whole German people would find itself in jail. 

It has often been declared that money would buy anything 
in Germany throughout the war. This statement is exag- 
gerated, but it is a fact that the well-to-do could at all times 
secure most of the necessaries and some of the luxuries of 
life. But the prices were naturally so high as to be out of the 
reach of the great mass of the people. Butter cost as much 
as $8 a pound in this illegitimate trade, meat about the 
same, eggs 40 to 50 cents apiece, and other articles in pro- 
portion. The poorer people — and this, in any country, means 
the great majority — could not pay these prices. Themselves 
forced to go hungry and see their children hunger while the 
wealthy bourgeoisie had a comparative abundance, they 
were further embittered against war and against all govern- 
ments responsible for war, including their own. 

The German soldiers at the front had fared well by Ger- 
man standards. In the third year of the war the writer saw 
at the front vast stores of ham, bacon, beans, peas, lentils 
and other wares that had not been available to the civil 
population since the war began. Soldiers home on furlough 
complained of being continuously hungry and returned to 
the lines gladly because of the adequate rations there. 

With the coming of the fourth year, however, conditions 
began to grow bad even at the front, and the winter of 191 7- 
18 brought a marked decrease of rations, both in quantity 
and quality. Cavalrymen and soldiers belonging to munition 
or work columns ate the potatoes issued for their horses. 
They ground in their coffee-mills their horses' scant rations 
of barley and made pancakes. A high military official 
who took part in the drive for the English Channel that 
started in March, 191 8, assured the writer that the chief 
reason for the failure to reach the objective was that the 



German soldiers stopped to eat the provisions found in the 
enemy camps, and could not be made to resume the advance 
until they had satisfied their hunger and assured themselves 
that none of the captured stores had been overlooked. Lu- 
dendorfT, hearing of this, is said to have declared: "Then 
it's all over." This, while probably untrue, would have been 
a justified and prophetic summing-up of the situation. 

Not only were the soldiers hungry by this time, but they 
were insufficiently clad. Their boots were without soles, and 
they had neither socks nor the Fusslappen (bandages) which 
most of them preferred to wear instead of socks. A shirt 
issued from the military stores in the summer of 191 8 to a 
German soldier-friend of the writer was a woman's ribbed 
shirt, cut low in the neck and gathered with a ribbon. 

The military reverses of this summer thus found a sol- 
diery hungry and ill-clad, dispirited by complaints from 
their home-folk of increasing privations, and, as we shall 
see in the following chapter, subjected to a revolutionary 
propaganda of enormous extent by radical German Social- 
ists and by the enemy. 


Internationalism at Work. 

No people ever entered upon a war with more en- 
thusiasm or a firmer conviction of the justice of 
their cause than did the Germans. Beset for genera- 
tions on all sides by potential enemies, they had lived under 
the constant threat of impending war, and the events of the 
first days of August, 19 14, were hailed as that "end of 
terror" {ein Ende tnit Schrecken) which, according to an 
old proverb, was preferable to "terror without end" 
{^Schrecken ohne Ende). The teachings of internationalism 
were forgotten for the moment even by the Socialists. The 
veteran August Bebel, one of the founders of German 
Socialism, had never been able entirely to overcome an in- 
born feeling of nationalism, and had said in one famous 
speech in the Reichstag that it was conceivable that a situa- 
tion could arise where even he would shoulder die alte 
Biichse (the old musket) and go to the front to defend the 

Such a situation seemed even to the extremest interna- 
tionalists to have arisen. At the memorable meeting in the 
White Hall of the royal palace in Berlin on August 4, 1914, 
the Socialist members of the Reichstag were present and 
joined the members of the bourgeois parties in swearing to 
support the Fatherland. The Kaiser retracted his reference 
to vaterlandslose Gesellen. " I no longer know any parties," 
he said. " I know only Germans." Hugo Haase, one of the 
Socialist leaders and one of the small group of men whose 
efforts later brought about the German revolution and the 
downfall of the empire and dynasty, was carried away like 
his colleagues by the enthusiasm of the moment. He prom- 
ised in advance the support of his party to the empire's war 
measures, and when, a few hours later, the first war-appro- 



priation measure, carrying five billion marks, was laid be- 
fore the deputies, the Socialists voted for it without a dis- 
senting voice, and later joined for the first time in their 
history in the Kaiserhoch, the expression of loyalty to mon- 
arch and country with which sessions of the Reichstag were 
always closed. 

Nothing could testify more strongly to the universal be- 
lief that Germany was called upon to fight a defensive and 
just war. For not only had the Socialist teachings, as we 
have seen, denounced all warfare as in the interests of capi- 
tal alone, but their party in the Reichstag included one man 
whose anti-war convictions had already resulted in his being 
punished for this expression. This was Dr. Karl Liebknecht, 
who had been tried at the Supreme Court in Leipsic in 1907 
on a charge of high treason for publishing an anti-military 
pamphlet, convicted of a lesser degree of treason and sen- 
tenced to eighteen months' imprisonment. Haase himself 
had bitterly attacked militarism and war in a speech in the 
Reichstag in April, 1913, in opposition to the government's 
military bills, and only his parliamentary immunity pro- 
tected him from sharing Liebknecht's fate. One of the 
strongest defenders of the war in Bavaria was Kurt Eisner, 
already an intellectual Bolshevist and Communist, who had 
been compelled earlier to leave the editorial staff of the 
Vorivdrts because of his far-going radicalism and dreamy 

All these men were subsequently bitterly attacked by So- 
cialists of enemy lands for their surrender of principles. The 
feeling that dictated these attacks is comprehensible, but 
adherents of the my-country-right-or-wrong brand of pa- 
triotism are precluded from making such attacks. It cannot 
be permitted to any one to blow hot and cold at the same 
time. He may not say : " I shall defend my country right or 
wrong, but you may defend yours only if it is right." To 
state the proposition thus baldly is to destroy it. Unquestion- 
ing patriotism is applicable everywhere or nowhere, and its 
supporters cannot logically condemn its manifestation by 
the German Socialists in the opening months of the World 



The first defection in the ranks of the Socialists came in 
the second war session of the Reichstag in December, 1914, 
when Liebknecht, alone among all the members of the house, 
refused to vote for the government's war-credit of five bil- 
lion marks. Amid scenes of indignant excitement he tried to 
denounce the war as imperialistic and capitalistic, but was 
not permitted to finish his remarks. 

There has been observable throughout the allied countries 
and particularly in America a distinct tendency to regard 
Liebknecht as a hero and a man of great ability and moral 
courage. But he was neither the one nor the other. He was a 
man of great energy which was exclusively devoted to de- 
stroying, and without any constructive ability whatever, 
and what was regarded as moral courage in him was rather 
the indifferent recklessness of fanaticism combined with 
great egotism and personal vanity. Liebknecht's career was 
in a great degree determined by his feeling that he was 
destined to carry on the work and fulfil the mission of his 
father, Wilhelm Liebknecht, the friend of Marx, Bebel and 
Engels, and one of the founders of the Socialist party in 
Germany. But he lacked his father's mental ability, common- 
sense and balance, and the result was that he became the 
enfant terrible of his party at an age when the designation 
applied almost literally. 

Educated as a lawyer, the younger Liebknecht devoted 
himself almost exclusively to politics and to writing on po- 
litical subjects. Last elected to the Reichstag from the Pots- 
dam district in 191 2, he distinguished himself in April, 191 3, 
by a speech in which he charged the Krupp directors with 
corrupting officials and military officers. He also named the 
Kaiser and Crown Prince in his speech. The result was an 
investigation and trial of the army officers involved. In 
making these charges Liebknecht performed a patriotic 
service, but even here his personal vanity asserted itself. 
Before making the speech he sent word to the newspapers 
that he would have something interesting to say, and re- 
quested a full attendance of reporters. He delayed his speech 
after the announced time because the press-gallery was not 
yet full. 



A consistent enemy of war, he attacked the international 
armament industry in a speech in the Reichstag on May lo, 
1914. In the following month he charged the Prussian au- 
thorities with trafficking in titles. But in all the record of 
his public activities — and he was forty-three years old when 
the war broke out — one will search in vain for any construc- 
tive work or for any evidence of statesmanlike qualities. 

Liebknecht visited America in 19 10. When he returned 
to Germany he attacked America in both speeches and writ- 
ings as the most imperialistic and capitalistic of all countries. 
He declared that in no European country would the police 
dare handle citizens as they did in America, and asserted 
that the American Constitution is "not worth the paper it 
is written upon." In Berlin on December 17, 191 8, he said 
to the writer : 

"The war has proved that your constitution is no better 
today than it was when I expressed my opinion of it nine 
years ago. Your people have been helpless in the face of it 
and were drawn into war just like the other belligerents. The 
National Assembly (Weimar) now planned will bequeath 
to us a charter equally as worthless. The workingmen are 
opposed to the perpetuation of private ownership." 

In the face of this, it must be assumed that American 
glorification of Liebknecht rests upon ignorance of the man 
and of what principles he supported. 

For a few months after the beginning of the war Lieb- 
knecht stood almost alone in his opposition. As late as 
September, 19 14, we see Haase heading a mission of So- 
cialists to Italy to induce her to be faithful to her pledges 
under the Triple Alliance and to come into the war on Ger- 
many's side, or, failing that, at least to remain neutral. 
Haase, who was a middle-aged Konigsberg (East Prussia) 
lawyer, had for some years been one of the prominent 
leaders of the Social-Democratic party and was at this time 
one of the chairmen of the party's executive committee. He 
was later to play one of the chief roles in bringing about 
the revolution, but even in December, 1914, he was still a 
defender of the war, although already insistent that it must 
not end in annexations or the oppression of other peoples. 



It was not until a whole year had passed that he finally 
definitely threw in his lot with those seeking to weaken the 
government at home and eventually destroy it. 

The real undermining work, however, had begun earlier. 
Several men and at least two women were responsible for it 
at this stage. The men included Liebknecht, Otto Riihle, a 
former school teacher from Pirna (Saxony), and now a 
member of the Reichstag, and Franz Mehring. Riihle, a 
personal friend of Liebknecht, broke with his party at the 
end of 1 9 14 and devoted himself to underground propagan- 
da with an openly revolutionary aim, chiefly among the 
sailors of the High Seas fleet. Mehring was a venerable 
Socialist author of the common idealistic, non-practical va- 
riety, with extreme communistic and international views, 
and enjoyed great respect in his party and even among non- 
Socialist economists. The two women referred to were Clara 
Zetkin, a radical suff"ragette of familiar type, and Rosa 

The Luxemburg woman was, like so many others directly 
concerned in the German revolution, of Jewish blood. By 
birth in Russian Poland a Russian subject, she secured 
German citizenship in 1870 by marrying a Genosse, a cer- 
tain Dr. Liibeck, at Dresden. She left him on the same day. 
Frau Luxemburg had been trained in the school of Russian 
Socialism of the* type that produced Lenin and Trotzky. 
She was a woman of unusual ability — perhaps the brainiest 
member of the revolutionary group in Germany, male or 
female — and possessed marked oratorical talent and great 
personal magnetism. Like all internationalists and especially 
the Jewish internationalists, she regarded war against capi- 
talistic and imperialistic governments, that is to say, against 
all bourgeois governments, as a holy war. Speaking Rus- 
sian, Polish and German equally well and inflamed by what 
she considered a holy mission, she was a source of danger to 
any government whose hospitality she was enjoying. She be- 
came early an intimate of Liebknecht and the little group of 
radicals that gathered around him, and her contribution to 
the overthrow of the German Empire can hardly be over- 



The first of the anti-war propaganda articles whose sur- 
reptitious circulation later became so common were the so- 
called "Spartacus Letters," which began appearing in the 
summer of 1915- There had been formed during the revolu- 
tion of 1848 a democratic organization calling itself the 
"Spartacus Union." The name came from that Roman 
gladiator who led a slave uprising in the last century of the 
pre-Christian era. This name was adopted by the authors 
of these letters to characterize the movement as a revolt of 
slaves against imperialism. The authorship of the letters 
was clearly composite and is not definitely known, but they 
were popularly ascribed to Liebknecht. His style marks 
some of them, but others point to Frau Luxemburg, and it 
is probable that at least these two and possibly other per- 
sons collaborated in them. They opposed the war, which 
they termed an imperialistic war of aggression, and sum- 
moned their readers to employ all possible obstructive tac- 
tics against it. Revolution was not mentioned in so many 
words, but the tendency was naturally revolutionary. 

Despite all efforts of the authorities, these letters and 
other anti-war literature continued to circulate secretly. In 
November, 191 5, Liebknecht, Frau Luxemburg, Mehring 
and Frau Zetkin gave out a manifesto, which was published 
in Switzerland, in which they declared that their views re- 
garding the war differed from those of the rest of the So- 
cialists, but could not be expressed in Germany under mar- 
tial law. The manifesto was so worded that prosecution 
thereon could hardly have been sustained. The Swiss news- 
papers circulated freely in Germany, and the manifesto was 
not without its effect. The Socialist party saw itself com- 
pelled on February 2, 191 5, to expel Liebknecht from the 
party. This step, although doubtless unavoidable, proved 
to be the first move toward the eventual split in the party. 
There were already many Socialists who, although out of 
sympathy with the attitude of their party, had nevertheless 
hesitated to break with it. Many of these, including most of 
Liebknecht's personal followers, soon followed him volun- 
tarily, and the allegiance of thousands of others to the old 
party was seriously weakened. 




Outwardly, however, what was eventually to become a 
revolutionary movement made no headway during the spring 
and summer of 1915- The shortage of food, although mak- 
ing itself felt, had not yet brought general suffering. The 
German armies had won many brilliant victories and suf- 
fered no marked reverse. Mackensen's invasion of Galicia 
in May and June revived the spirits of the whole nation, in 
which, as among all other belligerent nations, a certain war- 
weariness had already begun to manifest itself. 

The open break in the Socialist party first became appar- 
ent at the session of the Reichstag on December 21, 191 5. 
The government had asked for a further war-credit of ten 
billion marks. Haase had a week earlier drawn up a mani- 
festo against the war, but the newspapers had been forbidden 
to print it. At this Reichstag session he employed his parlia- 
mentary prerogatives to get this manifesto before the people 
in the form of a speech attacking the war as one of aggres- 
sion, and announced that he would vote against the credit 
asked. Fourteen other members of his party voted with him. 
The German people's solid war-front had been broken. 

The motives of most of those who thus began the revolt 
against the government and who were later responsible for 
the revolution are easy to determine. Many were honest 
fanatics, and some of these, chief among them Liebknecht, 
carried their fanaticism to a degree calling for the serious 
consideration of alienists. Others again were moved by pure- 
ly selfish considerations, and some of them had criminal 
records. Haase presented and still presents a riddle even for 
those who know him well. Judged by his speeches alone, he 
appears in the light of an honest internationalist, striving to 
further the welfare of his own and all other peoples. Judged 
by his conduct, and particularly his conduct in the months 
following the revolution, he appears in the light of a politi- 
cal desperado whose acts are dictated by narrow personal 
considerations. He was particularly fitted for leadership of 
the government's opponents by the absence from his makeup 
of the blind fanaticism that characterized the majority of 
these, and by an utter unscrupulousness in his methods. He 



was free also from that fear of inconsistency which has been 
called the vice of small minds. 

The questions growing out of the manner of conducting 
the submarine warfare became acute in the first months of 
1916. The government was determined to prevent any open 
debate on this subject in the Reichstag, and the deputies of 
all parties bowed to the government's will. Haase and his 
little group of malcontents, however, refused to submit. 
They carried their opposition to the authority of their own 
party to such an extent that a party caucus decided upon 
their exclusion. The caucus vote was followed on the same 
day — March 24, 191 6 — by the formal secession from the 
party of Haase and seventeen other members, who consti- 
tuted themselves as a separate party under the designation 
of "Socialist Working Society" {Arbeitsgemeinschaft) . The 
seceders included, among others, Georg Ledebour, Wilhelm 
Dittmann, Dr. Oskar Cohn, Emil Barth, Ernst Daumig and 
Eduard Bernstein. Liebknecht, who had been excluded from 
the party a year earlier, allied himself to the new group. 
All its members were internationalists. 

The formation of the new party furnished a rallying point 
for all radical Socialists and also for the discontented gen- 
erally, and the numbers of these were increasing daily. Un- 
der the protection of their parliamentary immunity these 
members were able to carry on a more outspoken and effec- 
tive agitation against the war. Haase, Ledebour and other 
members of the group issued a manifesto in June, 191 6, 
wherein it was declared that the people were starving and 
that the only replies made by the government to their pro- 
tests took the form of a severe application of martial law. 
"The blockade should have been foreseen," said the mani- 
festo. "It is not the blockade that is a crime; the war is a 
crime. The consolation that the harvest will be good is a 
deliberate deception. All the food in the occupied territories 
has been requisitioned, and people are dying of starvation 
in Poland and Serbia." The manifesto concluded with an ap- 
peal to the men and women of the laboring-classes to raise 
their voices against the continuance of the war. 

The underground propaganda against the war and the 



government assumed greater proportions, and encouraged 
the revolutionaries in the Reichstag. Grown bold, Haase 
announced that a pacifist meeting would be held in Berlin 
on August 30. It was prohibited by the police. Sporadic 
strikes began. Riihle had staged the first avowedly political 
strike at Leipsic on May Day. It failed, but set an example 
which was followed in other parts of the empire. 

Liebknecht, who had been mustered into the army and 
was hence subject to military regulations, was arrested on 
May Day in Berlin for carrying on an anti-war and anti- 
government agitation among the workingmen. On trial he 
was sentenced to thirty months' imprisonment and to dis- 
honorable dismissal from the army. This was the signal 
for widespread strikes of protest in various cities. There 
was serious rioting in Berlin on July ist, and grave dis- 
orders also occurred at Stuttgart, Leipsic and other cities. 
Liebknecht appealed from the conviction and the appellate 
court raised the sentence to four years and one month, with 
loss of civil rights for six years. This caused a recrudescence 
of July's demonstrations, for a sentence of this severity was 
most unusual in Germany. Liebknecht's personal followers 
and party friends swore vengeance, and many others who 
had theretofore kept themselves apart from a movement 
with which they secretly sympathized were rendered more 
susceptible to radical anti-war propaganda. 

The autumn of 1916 brought the government's so-called 
Hilfsdienstgesetz, or Auxiliary Service Law, intended to 
apply military rules of enrollment and discipline to the car- 
rying out of necessary work at home, such as wood-cutting, 
railway-building, etc. This law produced widespread dis- 
satisfaction, and Haase, by attacking it in the Reichstag, in- 
creased his popularity and poured more oil upon the flames 
of discontent. In March, 191 7, he declared openly in the 
Reichstag that Germany could not win the war and that 
peace must be made at once. 

The Russian revolution of this month was a factor whose 
influence and consequences in Germany can hardly be ex- 
aggerated. Not even the wildest dreamer had dared to be- 
lieve that a revolution could be successfully carried through 



in war-time while the government had millions of loyal 
troops at its disposal. That it not only did succeed, but 
that many of the Tsar's formerly most loyal officers, as, for 
example, Brussiloff, immediately joined the revolutionaries, 
exerted a powerful effect. And this, while Germans loyal to 
their government hailed the revolution as the downfall of a 
powerful enemy, the masses, starving through this terrible 
Kohlruhenwinter, cold, miserable, dispirited by the bloody 
sacrifices from which few families had been exempt, in- 
fected unconsciously by the doctrines of international So- 
cialism and skillfully propagandized by radical agitators, 
began to wonder whether, after all, their salvation did not 
lie along the route taken by the Russians. 

The radical Socialists who had left the old party in 191 6 
organized as the Independent Socialist Party of Germany 
at a convention held in Gotha in April, 191 7. Eighteen men 
had left the party a year earlier, but one hundred and forty- 
eight delegates, including fifteen Reichstag deputies, at- 
tended the convention. Haase and Ledebour were chosen 
chairmen of the executive committee, and a plan of oppo- 
sition to the further conduct of the war was worked out. 
Party newspaper organs were established, and some existing 
Socialist publications espoused the cause of the new party. 
Revolution could naturally be no part of their open policy, 
and there may have been many members of the party who 
did not realize what the logical and inevitable conse- 
quences of their actions were. The leaders, however, were 
by this time definitely and deliberately working for the 
overthrow of the government, although it may be doubted 
whether ev-en they realized what would be the extent of the 
debacle when it should come. 

Reference has already been made to strikes in various 
parts of the empire. These had been, up to 191 8, chiefly due 
to dissatisfaction over material things — hunger (the strong 
undercurrent of all dissatisfaction), inadequate clothing, 
low wages, long hours, etc. They were encouraged and often 
manipulated by radical Socialists who perceived their im- 
portance as a weapon against the government, and were to 
that extent political, but the first great strike with revolution 



as its definite aim was staged in Berlin and Essen at the end 
of January, 19 1 8. The strength of the Independent Social- 
ists and of the more radical adherents of Liebknecht, Le- 
debour, Rosa Luxemburg and others of the same stamp, 
while it had increased but slowly in the rural districts and 
the small towns, had by this time reached great proportions 
in the capital and generally in the industrial sections of 
Westphalia. Two great munition plants in Berlin employing 
nearly a hundred thousand workers were almost solidly 
Independent Socialist in profession and Bolshevist in fact. 
The infection had reached the great plants in and around 
Essen in almost equal degree. A great part of these malcon- 
tents was made up of youths who, in their early teens when 
the war broke out, had for more than three years been re- 
leased from parental restraint owing to the absence of their 
soldier- fathers and who had at the same time been earning 
wages that were a temptation to lead a disordered life. They 
were fertile ground for the seeds of propaganda whose sow- 
ing the authorities were unable to stop, or even materially to 
check. Even Liebknecht, from his cell, had been able to get 
revolutionary communications sent out to his followers. 

The January strike assumed large proportions, and so 
confident were the Berlin strikers of the strength of their 
position that they addressed an "ultimatum" to the govern- 
ment. This ultimatum demanded a speedy peace without 
annexations or indemnities; the participation of working- 
men's delegates of all countries in the peace negotiations; 
reorganization of the food-rationing system; abolishing of 
the state of siege, and freedom of assembly and of the press ; 
the release of all political prisoners ; the democratization of 
state institutions, and equal suffrage for women. The strik- 
ers appointed a workmen's council to direct their campaign, 
and this council chose an "action commission," of which 
Haase was a member. 

The authorities, in part unable and in part unwilling to 
make the concessions demanded, took determined steps to 
put down the strike. Their chief weapon was one that had 
been used repeatedly, and, as events proved, too often and 
too freely. This weapon was the so-called Strafversetzungen, 



or punitive transfers into the front-army. The great part of 
the strikers were men subject to military duty who had been 
especially reclaimed and kept at work in indispensable in- 
dustries at home. They were, however, subject to military 
law and discipline, and the imminent threat of being sent 
to the front in case of insubordination had prevented many 
strikes that would otherwise have come, and the carrying in- 
to effect of this threat had broken many revolts in factories. 
Thousands of these men, who had been drawing high wages 
and receiving extra allowances of food, were promptly 
sent into the trenches. 

Every such Strajversetzung was worse than a lost battle 
in its effect. The victims became missionaries of revolution, 
filled with a burning hatred for the government that had 
pulled them from their comfortable beds and safe occupa- 
tions and thrown them into the hail of death and the hard- 
ships of the front. They carried the gospel of discontent, 
rebellion and internationalism among men who had there- 
tofore been as sedulously guarded against such propaganda 
as possible. The morale of the soldiery was for a time re- 
stored by the successes following the offensive of March, 
191 8, and it never broke entirely, even during the terrible 
days of the long retreat before the victorious Allied armies, 
but it was badly shaken, and the wild looting that followed 
the armistice was chiefly due to the fellows of baser sort who 
were at the front because they had been sent thither for pun- 

Yet another factor played an important part in increas- 
ing discontent at the front. One can say, without fear of 
intelligent contradiction, that no other country ever pos- 
sessed as highly trained and efficient officers as Germany at 
the outbreak of the war. There were martinets among them» 
and the discipline was at best strict, but the first article of 
their creed was to look after the welfare of the men com- 
mitted to their charge. Drawn from the best families and 
with generations of officer-ancestors behind them, they were 
inspired by both family and class pride which forbade them 
to spare themselves in the service of the Fatherland. The 
mortality in the officer-corps was enormous. About forty 



per cent of the original officers of career were killed, and a 
majority of the rest ificapacitated. The result was a shortage 
of trained men which made itself severely felt in the last 
year of the war. Youths of eighteen and nineteen, fresh from 
the schools and hastily trained, were made lieutenants and 
placed in command of men old enough to be their fathers. 
The wine of authority mounted to boyish heads. Scores of 
elderly German soldiers have declared to the writer inde- 
pendently of each other that the overbearing manners, ar- 
bitrary orders and arrogance of these youths aroused the 
resentment of even the most loyal men and increased in- 
estimably the discontent already prevailing at the front. 


Propaganda and Morale. 

EVEN before the anti-war and revolutionary propa- 
ganda had attained great proportions there were in- 
dications that all was not well in one branch of the 
empire's armed forces. Rumblings of discontent began to 
come from the navy early in the second year of the war, and 
in the summer of 191 6 there was a serious outbreak of 
rioting at Kiel. Its gravity was not at first realized, because 
Kiel, even in peace times, had been a turbulent and riotous 
city. But a few months later the rioting broke out again, 
and in the early summer of 191 7 there came a menacing 
strike of sailors and shipyard and dock laborers at Wil- 
helmshaven. This was mainly a wage-movement, coupled 
with a demand for more food, but it had political conse- 
quences of a serious nature. 

The first displays of mutinous spirit among the men of 
the fleet were not so much due to revolutionary and radical 
Socialist propaganda as to a spontaneous internal dissatis- 
faction with the conditions of the service itself. No contin- 
uously extensive use of the submarines had been made up to 
the middle of the winter of 191 6. There had been spurts of 
activity with this weapon, but no sustained effort. By 
March, 1916, however, many U-boats were being sent out. 
At first they were manned by volunteers, and there had 
been a surplus of volunteers, for the men of the submarine 
crews received special food, more pay, liberal furloughs and 
the Iron Cross after the third trip. Within a year, however, 
conditions changed decidedly. The percentage of U-boats 
lost is not yet known, but the men of the fleet reckoned that 
a submarine rarely survived its tenth trip. The Admiralty 



naturally published no accounts of boats that failed to come 
back, and this added a new terror to this branch of the 

Volunteers were no longer to be had. The result was that 
drafts were resorted to, at the first from the men of the 
High Seas fleet, and later from the land forces. Such a draft 
came to be considered as equivalent to a death-sentence.-^ 
Disaff"ection increased in the fleet. The Independent Social- 
ists were prompt to discover and take advantage of these 
conditions. The sailors were plied with propaganda, oral 
and written. The character of this propaganda was not gen- 
erally known until October 9, 191 7, when the Minister of 
Marine, Admiral von Capelle, speaking in the Reichstag, 
informed the astonished nation that a serious mutiny had 
occurred in the fleet two months earlier, and that it had been 
necessary to execute some of the ringleaders and imprison 
a number of others. 

Von Capelle's disclosures came as answer to an interpel- 
lation by the Independent Socialist deputies regarding pan- 
German propaganda at the front and the prohibition of the 
circulation of twenty-three Socialist newspapers among the 
men of the ships. The Independent Wilhelm Dittmann 
made a long speech supporting the interpellation, and voiced 
a bitter complaint over the fact that pan-German agita- 
tion was permitted at the front and among the fleet, while 
the Independent Socialist propaganda was forbidden. Dr. 
Michaelis, the Imperial Chancellor, made a brief response, 
in which he announced that Admiral von Capelle would an- 
swer the Independents. "I will merely say one thing," he 
said, "and that is that Deputy Dittmann is the last man in 
the world who has a right to talk about agitation in the 
army and navy." 

Michalis referred then to a complaint by Dittmann that 
he (Michalis) had not been true to his promise, made upon 
assuming office, to treat all parties alike. "Dittmann has 
forgotten to add the qualification which I made at that 

'The heavy losses among army aviators had brought about a similar state 
of affairs at this time in the army. Volunteers for the fighting planes ceased 
offering themselves, and a resort to forcfed service became necessary. 



time," said the Chancellor. "I said all parties that do not 
threaten the existence of the empire or follow aims danger- 
ous to the state. The party of the Independent Social-Dem- 
ocrats stands on the other side of that line so far as I am 

This was the first open declaration by the government of 
war on the party of Haase, Dittman, et al. The Majority 
Socialists — as the members of the old or parent organiza- 
tion were now termed — joined in the tumult raised by their 
seceding brethren. When the storm had laid itself, Admiral 
von Capelle made his sensational disclosures. He said : 

"It is unfortunately a fact that the Russian revolution 
has turned the heads of a few persons on board our fleet 
and caused them to entertain matured revolutionary ideas. 
The mad plan of these few men was to secure accomplices 
on all ships and to subvert the whole fleet, all members of 
the crews, to open mutiny, in order, by force if necessary, 
to paralyze the fleet and compel peace. 

"It is a fact that these men have entered into relations 
with the Independent Socialist Party. It has been formally 
established by the evidence that the ringleader presented his 
plans to Deputies Dittmann, Haase and Vogtherr in the 
caucus-room of the Independent Socialists herein the Reichs- 
tag building, and that it received the approval of these men. 

"It is true that these deputies pointed out the extreme 
danger of the proposed action and warned the conspirators 
to observe the greatest caution, but they promised their 
whole-hearted support through the furnishing of agitation 
material designed to incite the fleet to mutiny." 

Von Capelle's speech was interrupted at this point by 
cries of indignation from the parties of the right and center, 
and by abusive remarks directed against the speaker from 
the Socialists of both factions. When the presiding-officer 
had succeeded in restoring a semblance of order, the Ad- 
miral continued : 

"In view of this situation it was my first duty to prevent 
with all possible means at my disposal the circulation of the 
incitatory literature among the fleet. 

" I do not care at this time to go into details concerning 



the further happenings in the fleet. Some few men who had 
forgotten honor and duty committed grave crimes and have 
undergone the punishment which they deserved. I will only 
add here that the rumors in circulation, which have natural- 
ly come also to my ears, are exaggerated beyond all meas- 
ure. The preparedness of the fleet for battle has not been 
brought in question for a single moment, and it shall and 
will not be." 

The three deputies named by von Capelle defended them- 
selves in speeches which, judged even on their merits and 
without reference to the personalities and records of the men 
making them, did not ring quite true or carry complete con- 
viction. In the light of the previous and subsequent conduct 
of the trio and of the occurrences of November, 191 8, their 
shifty and evasive character is apparent. We have already 
learned something of Haase's activities, and the other two 
were among his ablest and most energetic lieutenants. Ditt- 
mann, virtually a Communist and pronounced internation- 
alist, was later arrested for pro-revolutionary activities. 
Erwin Vogtherr, the third member of the group, had from 
the very beginning been one of the most perniciously active 
of all revolutionary propagandists and agitators. He had 
been for some time the editor of Der Atheist (The Atheist), 
and was of that uncompromising type of atheists who con- 
sider it necessary to keep their hats on in church to show 
their disbelief in a Creator. 

Haase, in his reply to the charges against him, admitted 
that the mutineers' ringleader had had a conference with 
him, Dittmann and Vogtherr. But this, he declared, was 
nothing out of the ordinary, since it was both his custom 
and his duty to receive the men who came to him from both 
army and navy to complain of conditions. The sailor re- 
ferred to by Admiral von Capelle had visited him during the 
summer and complained bitterly about the conditions which 
he and his colleagues were compelled to endure. Haase con- 
tinued : 

"He declared further that the sailors, and especially 
those of lengthy service, felt keenly the lack of mental stim- 
ulus, that great numbers of them had subscribed to Inde- 



pendent Socialist publications, were reading them zealously 
and receiving stimulus from them. It was their intention to 
educate themselves further and to devote themselves to po- 
litical discussions in meetings on land. To this end they 
desired to have literature. Although, as has been shown in 
the last days, political discussions have been carried on un- 
der full steam, even officially, I called this sailor's attention 
to the fact that what was in itself permissible, might, under 
the peculiar conditions under which we lived, become dan- 
gerous, and I warned him to be cautious. This much is cor- 

Haase denied that the sailor had submitted any revolu- 
tionary plan to him or his colleagues, and challenged Ad- 
miral von Capelle to produce his evidence. 

It is difficult for one who, like the writer, has a thorough 
acquaintance with the Independent Socialist publications, 
to take seriously the statement that they were desired merely 
for "mental stimulus" by sailors who wished to "educate 
themselves further." The plain tendency of all these publi- 
cations, disguised as cleverly as it might be in an attempt to 
escape confiscation of the issue or prosecution for treason, 
Mas revolutionary. A certain degree of venomousness, scur- 
rility and abuse of bourgeois opponents has always char- 
acterized all but a few Socialist publications in all lands, 
and the Independent Socialist press far outdid the organs 
of the old party in this respect. It preached internationalism 
and flouted patriotism; it ridiculed all existing authority; 
it glorified the Russian revolution in a manner calculated to 
induce imitation by its readers, and, following the Bolshevik 
revolution in Russia in November, 191 7, it published regu- 
larly the reports of the Isvestia and other Bolshevik organs, 
with laudatory editorial comment. The man who "educated 
himself further" by a reading of the Independent Socialist 
publications was educating himself for revolution and for 
nothing else. 

Vogtherr set up a straw man in his reply and demolished 
it to the complete satisfaction of himself and his brother 
Socialists, including, strangely enough, also the Majority 
Socialists, who, despite the fact that the Independent So- 



cialist press had classified them with bourgeoisie and 
attacked them even more bitterly, on this occasion exhibited 
solidarity of feeling with their more radical colleagues. 
Vogtherr declared that von Capelle had charged the Inde- 
pendents with having worked out a plan for revolution in 
the fleet. This alleged charge he denied. He spoke with a 
certain pathos of the oppressed sailors who recognized in 
the Independents their real friends and naturally came to 
them instead of going to deputies in whom they had no 
confidence. He, too, demanded that the Minister of Marine 
produce his proof. Vogtherr, like Haase before him, de- 
voted a part of his speech to a general attack on von Capelle 
and Michaelis, plainly the attempt of a practical politician 
to confuse the issue. 

Dittmann spoke briefly along the lines followed by Haase 
and Vogtherr. He had, he said, carefully warned his sailor- 
visitors to keep within safe bounds. He refused to permit 
either Admiral von Capelle or Chancellor Michalis to re- 
strict his rights as Reichstag deputy to receive visitors and 
hear their complaints. Dittmann cleverly enlisted further 
the sympathy of the Majority Socialists by pointing out 
that several of their publications had also come under the 
ban of the Admiralty. 

Von Capelle responded to the challenge of the trio to pro- 
duce his evidence. He read the following testimony, given at 
the court-martial by one of the lieutenants of the mutineers' 
ringleader, a man named Sachse. This witness testified : 

" I, too, made a personal visit to Deputy Dittmann in the 
Reichstag after Reichpietsch (the ringleader) had visited 
him. I introduced myself by saying that I came from Reich- 
pietsch and that I came in the same matter. Dittmann indi- 
cated that he knew what I meant. He was glad to see me and 
said: 'We must go ahead in the same way, but we must use 
great caution.' 

"Regarding his conference with the members of the party 
Reichpietsch told me the following: He had not been with 
Dittmann alone, but there had been a kind of a party con- 
ference, participated in by Dittmann, Vogtherr and Haase. 
Reichpietsch communicated to them the plan and the results 



thus far attained by the organization, which, according to 
his declaration, was very enthusiastic about the matter. 

"After discussion of the details of the organization, the 
deputies told Reichpietsch that this was a prohibited and 
punishable undertaking and a very daring one, and he must 
be very careful. So far as they were concerned, they would 
support his agitation in every manner, and especially 
through pamphlets and other literature." 

Admiral von Capelle further read from the testimony of 
the ringleader, Reichpietsch, who, after reading Sachse's 
testimony, had said under oath : 

" Insofar as this testimony concerns me it is correct. That 
is to say, what I told Sachse was a true report of what had 
happened in Berlin." 

Friedrich (Fritz) Ebert, the Majority Socialist leader 
who later became the first president of the German Repub- 
lic, defended the Independent Socialists and declared that 
the government had offered no evidence to substantiate its 
accusations against Haase, Dittmann and Vogtherr. Deputy 
Naumann of the Progressive party also defended them in- 
directly, and both he and Deputy Trimborn of the Center 
(Clerical party) protested against any effort to place a 
Reichstag party outside the pale. 

In view of the revolutionary activities of the Independent 
Socialists even before that date and of the occurrences of the 
succeeding year, which culminated in the overthrow of the 
government, this attitude of supposedly loyal and patriotic 
parties of the Reichstag appears at first sight astonishing 
and almost inexplicable. There were, however, two reasons 
(in the case of the Majority Socialists three reasons) for it. 
Neither the bourgeois parties nor the Majority Socialists 
had any conception of the extent of the revolutionary propa- 
ganda being carried on by the Independents and their more 
radical accomplices. As we shall see later, even the old party 
Socialists were completely taken by surprise when the actual 
revolution came, and revolution was almost an accomplished 
fact in Berlin, six days after it had begun in Kiel, before 
they awakened to what was happening. Hence the accusa- 
tions against their colleagues of another party appeared to 



the three parties of the anti-annexationist wing of the 
Reichstag as a blow directed against all opponents of the 
pan- German program of the parties of the Right. 

The second reason was psychological and to be found in 
the atmosphere of the day's session. It had started, as al- 
ready reported, with the discussion of an interpellation re- 
garding pan-German propaganda at the front and in the 
fleet. The anti-Chauvinist majority of the Reichstag had 
earlier found its way together in a bloc composed of the 
Progressives, Clericals and Majority Socialists, and had 
adopted, on July 19, 191 7, a resolution, in the main the 
work of Mathias Erzberger of the Clericals, calling for a 
peace without annexations or indemnities, and reserving the 
right of self-determination to all nations. Equally with the 
Independent Socialists, this bloc had been stirred to indig- 
nation by the shameless manner in which the high civil and 
military authorities not only permitted the advocates of an 
imperialistic and annexationist peace to carry on their prop- 
aganda among the soldiers and sailors, but even encouraged 
and actively assisted in that work. Not only all Socialist 
publications, but even many bourgeois papers of the stamp 
of the Berlin Tageblatt were absolutely forbidden by the 
commanders of many troop units, and the soldiers were 
compelled to listen to speeches by members of the pan-Ger- 
man Vater lands partei (Fatherland Party) and similar or- 
ganizations. Ignorant of the extent and nature of the Inde- 
pendent Socialists' efforts to undermine authority, the bloc 
parties saw in Admiral von Capelle's charges only another 
manifestation of the spirit against which their own fight 
was directed. That, in these circumstances, they should de- 
fend the Independents was but natural. 

The third reason affecting the course of the Majority So- 
cialists has already been referred to in passing. This was the 
feeling of party solidarity, which still existed despite the 
fact that the Independents had had their own party organi- 
zation for some six months. Most of the prominent men in 
both Socialist parties had worked together in a common 
cause for many years, and while, in the heat of purely parti- 
san conflicts this was sometimes forgotten for the moment, 



it nevertheless united the two factions when, as now, the 
attack came from the extreme Right. 

Complete details of the mutiny of this summer have never 
been given out. According to the best reports available, it 
started on the battleship Westfalen at Wilhelmshaven and 
included altogether four vessels, one of which was the N urn- 
berg. The captain of the Niirnherg is said to have been 
thrown overboard. Rumor and enemy report made the most 
of the affair and undoubtedly exaggerated it greatly, but 
there can be no doubt that it was serious and that the morale 
of the fleet was greatly affected by it. Some of the ring- 
leaders — how many it is not known — were executed, and a 
considerable number were imprisoned for long terms. The 
extent and severity of the sentences added fuel to the dis- 
content already prevailing throughout the fleet. The men's 
fighting spirit sank as their revolutionary spirit rose. Von 
Capelle's boast that the fleet's preparedness for battle "shall 
and will not be brought in question for a moment" was a 
vain boast. The fleet was already rotten at the core. 

Ironic fate had led the men who directed the affairs of the 
German Empire to forge one of the weapons with which it 
was later to be destroyed. On April 9, 191 7, Nicholas Lenine, 
with thirty-two fanatical followers, had been brought from 
Switzerland through Germany in a sealed car and sent into 
Russia to sow the seeds of Bolshevism. How the plan suc- 
ceeded is only too well known. November brought the over- 
throw of the Kerensky government. Released from the ne- 
cessity of the intensive pre-revolutionary propaganda at 
home, the Bolsheviki turned their attention to imperialistic 
Germany. Their missionaries, liberally equipped with cor- 
ruption funds, entered Germany by secret routes and worked 
with Germans in sympathy with their cause, notably Lieb- 
knecht. Foremost among their propagandists was a man 
who called himself Radek. His real name was Sobelsohn, 
a Jew from Austrian Galicia. Expelled from his labor union 
before the war for robbing a Genosse, he had settled in 
Bremen and was even then the guiding spirit in the most 
radical and rabid circles. After the Russian Bolshevik revo- 
lution he quickly took up the severed threads of his former 



connections. He was intimate with all the Independent So- 
cialist leaders already named, and with many others. A man 
of acknowledged organizing and propagandizing ability, 
he contributed markedly to making Germany ripe for revo- 

All the gates were thrown down to Bolshevism following 
the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, when Joife, the Bolshevik Am- 
bassador, was permitted to come to Berlin and establish 
himself in the palace of the former Imperial Russian Em- 
bassy in Unter den Linden. He brought a staff of men and 
women whose sole duty it was to carry on Bolshevist propa- 
ganda against the government to which he was accredited. 
Leading Independent Socialists were frequent visitors at 
the embassy, and Haase, at an elaborate banquet held there 
in May, 1918, responded to the toast, "The Red Interna- 

Closest to Joffe of all Germans was Dr. Oskar Cohn, one 
of the founders of the Independent Socialist Party. Cohn, 
who is a Berlin lawyer, possesses that curious combination 
of characteristics so often encountered in extreme Socialism. 
In his private life of undoubted probity, he rejoiced at an 
opportunity to accept and distribute money given by a 
foreign government to overthrow the government of his 
own Fatherland. Mild-mannered and an opponent of force, 
he made the cause of Liebknecht's murderous Spartacans 
his own. Scholarly and of deep learning, he associated free- 
ly with the dregs of the population, with thieves and mur- 
derers, in furtherance of the cause of the international pro- 
letariat. He became the legal adviser of Joffe and one of the 
main distributors of the Bolsheviki's corruption fund. 

The political police were at all times cognizant of the 
revolutionary propaganda that was being carried on, but 
they were greatly hampered in their work by a limitation 
which had been imposed in 191 7 upon the so-called Schutz- 
haft, literally "protective arrest." This had been freely 
used against suspected persons from the beginning of the 
war, and hundreds had sat in jail for weeks in what was 
equivalent to a sentence of imprisonment, without having 
had an opportunity to hear what the charge against them 



was. The abuse of this right became so glaring that it was 
provided in 191 7 that arrested persons could not be detained 
without a definite crime being charged against them. The 
police made a long report on Joffe's activities in June, 191 8, 
and the authorities, with some hesitation, placed the matter 
before the "Ambassador." He lied bravely, declaring that he 
cherished no plans against the integrity of the German Em- 
pire and that his large staff existed solely to carry on the 
legitimate business of the embassy. 

The authorities, unconvinced, maintained a watch on the 
activities of the Russians. They were particularly suspicious 
of the unusual number of diplomatic couriers passing be- 
tween Berlin and Petrografl, Their number was said to reach 
nearly four hundred. The press began to voice these sus- 
picions. Joffe, with a fine show of indignation, declared that 
it "was beneath his dignity" to take any notice of them. The 
tenuity of Herr Joffe's dignity and the value of his word be- 
came apparent on November 5, 191 8, in the revolution week, 
when a box in the luggage of a courier arriving from Russia 
was — "accidentally," as the official report put it — ^broken 
open at the railway station. Its contents proved to be Bol- 
shevik propaganda literature inciting the Germans to insti- 
tute a reign of terror against the bourgeoisie, to murder the 
oppressors of the proletariat and to overthrow the govern- 
ment. One of these appeals came from the Spartacan Inter- 
nationale and contained a carefully worked-out program for 
instituting a reign of terror. 

Even the Vorwdrts, which had been reluctant to credit the 
charges against Genosse Joffe, was now compelled to admit 
that he had lied and misused his diplomatic privileges. Joffe, 
still denying his guilt, was escorted from the embassy in the 
middle of the following night by an armed guard and placed 
aboard a special train for Moscow, with the whole staff of 
the embassy and of the Rosta Telegraph Agency, ostensibly 
a news agency, but really an institution for carrying on Bol- 
shevik propaganda. Once safe in Russia, Joffe admitted his 
activities in Germany and gloried in them. In a wireless 
message sent on December 8, 1918, he said the Bolshevik 
literature had been circulated "through the good offices of 



the Independent Socialists." He declared further that a much 
greater number of weapons than had been alleged had been 
handed over to the Independent Barth, together with "sev- 
eral hundred thousand roubles." He added : 

" I claim for myself the honor of having devoted all my 
powers to the success of the German revolution through my 
activities, which were carried on in agreement with the In- 
dependent Socialist ministers Haase and Barth and with 

Following the publication of this wireless message, Cohn 
also issued an explanation of his activities in connection with 
Joffe. He said: 

" Is any particular explanatio'n or justification needed to 
make it clear that I gladly accepted the funds which the Rus- 
sian comrades sent me by the hand of Comrade Joffe for the 
purposes of the German revolution? Comrade Joffe gave me 
the money in the night of November 5th. This had nothing 
to do with the money which he had previously given me for 
the purchase of weapons. I used the money for the purpose 
intended, namely, the spreading of the revolutionary idea, 
and regret only that circumstances made it impossible for 
me to use all of it in this manner." 

Bolshevik centers had been organized all over Germany 
when the revolution came. On the same day Joffe was ex- 
pelled, the police in Diisseldorf closed a Bolshevik nest which 
was ostensibly conducted as a news agency. It was but one of 
scores of similar centers of revolution. 

The revolutionary propaganda being carried on inside 
the empire was powerfully aided and supplemented by the 
activities of Germany's enemies along the same lines. No de- 
tailed report of the extent of this branch of warfare is yet 
available, but it was, in the words of one of Germany's lead- 
ing generals in a talk with the writer, " devilishly clever and 
effective." From the air, through secret channels, through 
traitors at home, the German soldier or sailor was worked 
upon. He was told truths about the forces against him that 
had been suppressed by the German censors. The folly of 
longer trying to oppose the whole world was pointed out, and 
every possible weakness in the German character was cun- 



ningly exploited. The good effect of this propaganda cannot 
be doubted. 

Testimony regarding the part played by enemy propa- 
ganda in bringing about the final collapse of Germany has 
been given by one of the men best qualified to know the 
facts. In an article in Everybody's Magazine for February, 
1 919, George Creel, chairman of the American Committee 
on Public Information, gives full credit to the work of the 
American soldiers, but declares that, in the last analysis, 
Germany was defeated by publicity. The military collapse of 
Germany was due to " a disintegration of morale both on the 
firing line and among the civilian population." It was the 
telling of the truth to the Germans by their enemies that 
finally caused the debacle at a time when the German Army 
"was well equipped with supplies and ammunitions, and be- 
hind it still stretched line after line almost impregnable by 
reason of natural strength and military science."^ 

The propaganda literature was prepared by historians, 
journalists and advertising specialists, and even some psy- 
chologists were enlisted to help in its writing. Germany's 
borders, however, were so carefully guarded that it was 
difficult to get the matter into the country. Mr. Creel relates 
interestingly how this was done. Aeroplanes were employed 
to some extent, but these were so badly needed for fight- 
ing purposes that not enough could be obtained for distri- 
bution of propaganda literature. 

"The French introduced a rifle-grenade that carried 
pamphlets about six hundred feet in a favoring wind, and 
a seventy-five millimeter shell that carried four or five 
miles. The British developed a six-inch gun that carried 
ten or twelve miles and scattered several thousand leaflets 
from each shell. The Italians used rockets for close work 
on the front, each rocket carrying forty or fifty leaflets. 

'German assertions that their armies were never defeated in a military 
sense regularly arouse and will long continue to arouse anger and scornful 
indignation among their enemies, yet here we have official testimony to 
support their contentions. It is no detraction from the valor and military 
successes of the Allies to assert again that if the German troops had not 
been weakened physically by starvation and morally by enemy propaganda, 
they could have carried on the war for many months more. 



The obvious smash at German morale was through Amer- 
ica's aim and swift war-progress, and for this reason the 
Allies used the President's speeches and our military facts 
freely and sometimes exclusively. 

"To reach further behind the lines, all fronts used paper 
balloons filled with coal-gas. They would remain in the air 
a minimum of twenty hours, so as to make a trip of six hun- 
dred miles in a thirty-mile wind. On a Belgian fete-day 
such balloons carried four hundred thousand greetings in- 
to Belgium, and some flew clear across Belgium. Fabric 
balloons, carrying seventeen or eighteen pounds of leaflets, 
were also employed, but with all the balloons the uncer- 
tainty of the wind made the work haphazard. 

"The attempt was made to fly kites over the trenches and 
drop leaflets from traveling containers that were run up the 
kite-wire, but this method could be used only on fronts 
where aeroplanes were not active, because the wires were 
a menace to the planes. The paper used in the leaflets was 
chemically treated so that they would not spoil if they lay 
out in the rain. 

"An American invention that gave promise of supplant- 
ing all others was a balloon that carried a tin container hold- 
ing about ten thousand pamphlets. A clock attachment gov- 
erned the climb of the balloon, it had a sailing range of from 
six to eight hundred miles, and the mechanism could be 
set in such a manner as to have the pamphlets dropped in 
a bunch or one at a time at regular intervals, the whole 
business blowing up conclusively with the descent of the last 
printed 'bullet'." 

Similar methods were used against Austria-Hungary, 
writes Mr. Creel, and did much to shatter their feelings of 
allegiance to Germany. A proof of the eff"ectiveness of the 
propaganda came when an order from the German Gen- 
eral Staff" was found, "establishing death as a penalty for 
all those seen picking up our matter or found with it in their 
possession. Austria-Hungary had earlier given orders to 
shoot or imprison all soldiers or citizens guilty of the abom- 
inable crime of reading 'printed lies' against the govern- 



Indirectly, too, the Germans were subjected to Allied 
propaganda throughout the war. In one matter the German 
Government's attitude was more democratic and ethically 
defensible than the attitude of its enemies. It is discourag- 
ing to the abstract moralist to find that this worked out to the 
detriment of those adopting the more admirable course. Of 
all belligerent countries, Germany was the only one that 
permitted the free circulation and sale within its borders of 
the enemy press. Leading French and English editors were 
able with much difficulty to secure copies of some German 
papers, and occasionally the large press associations and 
some of the leading newspapers in America were permitted 
to see a few ancient copies, but nowhere could they be had by 
the private citizen, nor even read with safety in public places 
by those entitled to have them. There was never a time in 
Berlin, from the first declaration of war to the armistice, 
when the leading American, French, English, Italian and 
Russian papers could not be bought openly at a dozen news- 
stands or hotels, and the same was true generally throughout 

The well-disciplined Germans at first rejected as lies all 
reports in these papers diifering from the official German 
versions of the same happenings. Many kept this attitude 
to the last, but even these began after a while, in common 
with the less sturdy believers, to be morally shaken by the 
cumulative evidence of the worldwide unpopularity of the 
Germans and to be dismayed by the tone of the enemy toward 
everything that they had heretofore held holy. The average 
German stoically endured for a long time to be called "Hun," 
but, in homely phrase, it got on his nerves after a while. The 
wild atrocity stories also played their part. All intelligent 
readers of history know that tremendous exaggerations of 
such reports have always accompanied all wars. Before the 
present war the Associated Press, the world's greatest news- 
gathering agency, barred war-atrocity stories from its re- 
ports because experience had demonstrated that these were 
often — perhaps generally — untrue and almost always ex- 
aggerated. When the enemy press converted the German 
army's Kadaververwertunffs-Anstalt (Carcass Utilization 



Factory) into a Corpse Utilization Factory {Leichenver- 
wertungs-Anstalt) and declared that bodies of fallen Ger- 
man soldiers were being rendered out for the fat, the Ger- 
mans were at first indignant and angry. This feeling changed 
to one of consternation and eventual depression when they 
learned from the enemy newspapers that the story was uni- 
versally believed. In the course of the long war, the constant 
repetition of atrocity reports, both true and false, had a 
cumulative depressive effect which seriously shook the mo- 
rale of all but the sturdiest of the people and was one of the 
factors inducing the- general feeling of hopelessness that 
made the final debacle so complete. That everybody knew 
some of the reports to be true was an aggravation of their 
effect. A great part, perhaps, indeed, the greater part of all 
Germans condemned bitterly the Belgian deportations, just 
as the best minds of the nation condemned the new Schreck- 
lickkeit of the U-boat warfare, but they were helpless so 
long as their government was under the iron thumb of the 
military caste, and their helplessness increased their despair 
when they saw the opinion of the world embittered against 
their nation. 

There is plenty of German testimony to show how effective 
this enemy propaganda was. Siegfried Heckscher, Reichs- 
tag member and chief of the publicity department of the 
Hamburg-America Line, writing at the end of September, 
pointed out the need of a German propaganda ministry to 
counteract the attacks being made on Germany by the pro- 
paganda work under the direction of Lord Northcliffe. 

"The German practice of silence in the face of all the 
pronouncements of enemy statesmen cannot be borne any 
longer," said Herr Heckscher. "Anybody who watches the 
effect of the Northcliffe propaganda in foreign countries 
and in Germany can have only one opinion — that this silence 
is equivalent to a failure of German statesmanship. 

"With masterly skill every single speech of the English 
leaders is adapted not only to its effect in England, but also 
to its influence on public opinion among the neutrals and 
also, and especially, in Germany. * * * * Hundreds of thou- 
sands of Germans, reading a pronouncement by the Presi- 



dent of the United States, ask themselves bitterly what the 
German Government will say. Thus there is formed a cloud 
of discontent and dark doubt, which, thanks to this North- 
cliffe propaganda, spreads itself more and more over the 
German people. * * * * 

"We try to protect our country from enemy espionage 
and from the work of agents and scoundrels, but with open 
eyes we leave it defenseless while a stream of poisonous 
speeches is poured over its people. 

" It will not, of course, do for enemy pronouncements of 
importance to be withheld from our people, but it is as neces- 
sary for our people as their daily bread that the Anglo- 
Franco-American influence should be met by the German 
view, and that the justice and greatness of the German cause 
and of the German idea should be brought into the clear, full 
light of day. Nor is defense sufficient. We must also agres- 
sively champion our cause in the forum of the civilized world. 

" I repeat what I have said for years, that Renter and the 
English news propaganda are mightier than the English 
fleet and more dangerous than the English army." 

The Kolnische Volkszeitung echoed the demand for a 
propaganda ministry. It wrote: 

"As our good name has been stolen from us and made 
despicable throughout the world, one of our peace demands 
must be that our enemies publicly and officially confess that 
they have circulated nothing but lies and slanders. * * * The 
greatest need of the moment is a campaign of enlightenment, 
organized by all the competent authorities, to hammer into 
German heads that, if further sacrifices and eff"orts are re- 
quired of us, it is not the caprice of a few dozen people in 
Germany nor German obstinacy, but the enemy's impulse 
to destroy, that imposes them on people at home and at the 


Germany Requests an Armistice. 

DR. MICHALIS, unequal to his task, laid down the 
Imperial Chancellorship. "His successor was Count 
Hertling, Minister-President of Bavaria. The deci- 
sion to appoint this man Imperial Chancellor may have been 
influenced largely by a desire to strengthen the bonds beween 
Prussia and the next largest German state. It is possible also 
that Hertling's intimate relations with the Papal Court were 
taken into consideration, but the choice was a striking com- 
mentary on the dearth of good chancellorship material in 
Germany. Count Hertling's age alone unfitted him to bear the 
terrible burdens of this post, for he was well along in the 
seventi(5s, and not strong physically. He had distinguished 
himself as an educator and as a writer on certain topics, es- 
pecially Roman Catholic Church history, and had a record 
of honorable and faithful service as a member of the Bava- 
rian Government. In his role as statesman he had exhibited 
perhaps a little more than average ability, but never those 
qualities which the responsible head of a great state should 

A monarchist by birth and conviction. Count Hertling was 
particularly unfitted for the chancellorship at a time when 
the nation-wide demand for democratic reforms of govern- 
ment was increasing in strength every moment. In assuming 
his post he declared that he was fully cognizant of the 
strength and justice of the demand for an increased share of 
participation by the people in the government, and he 
pledged himself to use his best efforts to see that this demand 
was met. There is no reason to doubt the honesty of his in- 
tentions, but it was too much to expect that an aged Con- 
servative of the old school should so easily shake off old 



notions or even realize adequately what the great mass of 
the people meant when they cried out for a change of system. 
Probably no man could have carried out the task confront- 
ing the Chancellor; that Count HertHng would fail was in- 

The empire was honeycombed with sedition when the 
military reverses of the summer began. These reverses, dis- 
astrous enough in themselves, were greatly magnified by 
faint-hearted or malicious rumor. The military commander 
in the Marches (Brandenburg) issued a decree on September 
9th providing for a year's imprisonment or a fine of 1,500 
marks for persons spreading false rumors. The decree ap- 
plied not only to rumors of defeats, but also to reports ex- 
aggerating the enemy's strength, casting doubts on the abili- 
ty of the German armies to withstand the attack or bringing 
in question the soundness of the empire's economic situation. 

Reports of serious dissensions in Austria-Hungary came 
at the same time to add to the general depression. The 
Vienna Arbeiterzeitung said : 

"In questions regarding food we are compelled to ne- 
gotiate with Hungary as if we were negotiating with a for- 
eign power. The harvest is the best since the war began, but 
the Hungarians are ruthlessly starving the Austrians, al- 
though there is plenty for us all." 

The Austro-Hungarian Government saw the trend of 
events. Premier Baron Burian told Berlin that the Dual 
Monarchy could not keep up the struggle much longer. The 
people, he said, were starving, and disloyalty and treachery 
on the part of subject non-German races in Hungary, Bo- 
hemia and the Slav population had attained alarming pro- 

"If the rulers do not make peace the people will make it 
over their heads," said the Premier, "and that will be the 
end of rulers." 

He appealed to Germany to join with Austria-Hungary 
in making an offer of peace. Berlin counseled against such a 
step. The German Government had long lost any illusions 
it might have cherished in respect to Austria- Hungary's 
value as an ally, and it was fully informed of the desperate- 



ness of the situation there. Despite this it realized that such a 
step as Vienna proposed would be taken by the enemy as a 
confession of weakness, and it clung desperately to the hope 
that the situation on the west front might still be saved. 

Burian, however, cherished no illusions. Austria asked for 
peace, but made it clear that she did not mean a separate 
peace. The German people saw in Vienna's action the shadow 
of coming events, and their despondency was increased. 

Prince Lichnowsky, Germany's Ambassador at the Court 
of St. James at the out-break of the war, had earlier con- 
fided to a few personal friends copies of his memoirs regard- 
ing the events leading up to the war. Captain von Beerfelde 
of the German General Staff, into whose hands a copy came, 
had a number of copies made and circulated them generally. 
The memoirs were a frank disclosure of Germany's great 
share of the guilt for the war. The authorities tried to stop 
their circulation, but they were read by hundreds of thou- 
sands, and did much to destroy general confidence in the jus- 
tice of Germany's cause. 

Count Hertling, trying blunderingly to redeem his demo- 
cratic promises, made a tactlessly naive speech in the Prus- 
sian House of Lords in favor of the government's franchise- 
reform measures. These bills, although representing a de- 
cided improvement of the existing system, had been bitterly 
criticized by all liberal elements because they did not go far 
enough, but had finally been reluctantly accepted as the best 
that could be hoped for in the circumstances. A majority 
existed for them in the Prussian Diet, but the Junkers and 
noble industrialists of the House of Lords would hear of 
no surrender of their ancient rights and privileges. The 
Chancellor in his speech warned the Lords that they could 
avoid the necessity of making still more far-reaching con- 
cessions later by adopting the government's measures as 
they stood. To reject them, he declared, would be seriously 
to imperil the crown and dynasty. He closed with an appeal 
to his hearers to remember the services rendered to the 
Fatherland by men of all political creeds, including the So- 

Count Hertling's speech displeased everybody. The Con- 



servative press assailed him bitterly. The Deutsche Tages- 
zeitung, chief organ of the Junkers, called him "the grave- 
digger of the Prussian monarchy." The Kreuzzeitung 
charged him with minimizing the crown's deserts and ex- 
aggerating the services of the Socialists. The liberal bour- 
geois and the Socialist press said in effect: "And so this is 
our new democratic Chancellor who advises the House of 
Lords to block an honest democratic reform of Prussia's in- 
iquitous franchise system." The Ger'mania, chief organ of 
the Clericals, Hertling's own party, damned the speech 
with faint praise. 

Talk of a "chancellor crisis" was soon heard, and by the 
middle of September there was little doubt that Hertling's 
days were numbered. Nothing else can so adequately indi- 
cate the reversal of conditions in Germany as the fact that 
one of the men named oftenest even in bourgeois circles as a 
likely successor to Count Hertling was Philip Scheidemann, 
a leader of the Majority Socialists. The vaterlandslose Ge- 
sellen were coming into their own. 

The crisis became acute on September 20th. The govern- 
ment unofficially sounded the Majority Socialists as to their 
willingness to participate in a coalition government. The 
question was discussed on September 22d, at a joint con- 
ference of the Socialist Reichstag deputies and the members 
of the party's executive committee. Although one of the 
cardinal tenets of Socialism had always forbidden participa- 
tion in any but a purely Socialist government, the final vote 
was nearly four to one in favor of abandoning this tenet in 
view of the extraordinary situation confronting the empire. 
With eighty votes against twenty-two the conference de- 
cided to send representatives into a coalition government 
under the following conditions : 

1. The government shall unqualifiedly accept the declara- 
tion of the Reichstag of July 19, 1917,^ and declare its wil- 
lingness to enter a League of Nations whose fundamental 
principles shall be the peaceful adjustment of all conflicts 
and universal disarmament. 

2. The government shall make an absolutely unambiguous 

*Vide chapter ri. 



declaration of its willingness to rehabilitate {wiederher- 
stellen) Belgium and reach an understanding regarding 
compensation to that land, and also to rehabilitate Serbia 
and Montenegro. 

3. The peace treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest shall 
not be permitted to stand in the way of a general treaty of 
peace ; civil government shall be immediately established in 
all occupied territories ; occupied territories shall be evacu- 
ated when peace is concluded; democratic representative 
assemblies shall be established at once. 

4. Autonomy shall be granted to Alsace-Lorraine; gener- 
al, equal, secret and direct right of franchise shall be granted 
in all German federal states ; the Prussian Diet shall be dis- 
solved if the deliberations of the House of Lords do not im- 
mediately result in the adoption of the franchise- reform 

5. There shall be uniformity in the imperial government, 
and irresponsible unofficial auxiliary governments {Nehen- 
regierungen) are to be eliminated; representatives of the 
government shall be chosen from the majority of the Reichs- 
tag or shall be persons who adhere to the policies of this 
majority; political announcements by the crown or by mili- 
tary authorities shall be communicated to the Imperial 
Chancellor before they are promulgated. 

6. Immediate rescission of all decrees limiting the right 
of assembly or the freedom of the press ; the censorship shall 
be employed only in purely military matters (questions of 
tactics and strategy, movements of troops, fabrication of mu- 
nitions of war, etc.) ; a political control shall be instituted 
for all measures resorted to under the authority of the state 
of siege ; all military institutions that serve to exert political 
influence shall be abolished. 

On the whole this was a program which appealed to the 
vast majority of the German people. The Conservatives and 
one wing of the National Liberals would have none of it, 
but the conviction that nothing but a change of system would 
save Germany had been making rapid headway in the last 
few weeks. Even many of those opposed in principle to 
democratic government began to recognize that nothing 



else could unite the people. An article in the Vorwdrts by 
Scheidemann and another in the International Correspond- 
ence, an ably conducted news agency, pointing out the vital 
necessity of making any sacrifices that would save the coun- 
try, were widely reprinted and made a strong appeal. 

Chancellor Count Hertling, addressing the Reichstag on 
September 24th, made a speech which, read between the 
lines, was a veiled admission of the desperateness of the situ- 
ation and the increasingly discouraged condition of the peo- 
ple. He admitted frankly that the German armies had met 
serious reverses on the west front. But Germany, he declared, 
had met and triumphed over more serious situations. Russia 
and Roumania had been eliminated from the list of enemies, 
and he was confident that the people would not lose heart 
because of temporary setbacks and that the soldiers would 
continue to show their old spirit. Austria's peace demarche 
had been taken in the face of serious doubts on the part of 
the German Government regarding its advisability, but Ger- 
many, now as always, was ready to conclude a just peace. 

General von Wrisberg, said the Chancellor, reported that 
the English successes against the Marne position and be- 
tween the Ancre and the Aisne had been due to fog and the 
extensive employment of tanks. Counter-measures had been 
taken and there was no reason for uneasiness. The Germans 
had lost many prisoners and guns, but the enemy's losses 
had been frightful. 

"The American armies need not frighten us," said Count 
Hertling. "We shall take care of them."^ 

^The German Government deceived its own people grossly in the matter of 
the American forces in France. Hans Delbriick, editor of the Preussische 
Jahrbilcher, published on December lO, 1918, a statement that the govern- 
ment had forbidden him to publish Secretary Baker's figures of the Ameri- 
can strength, as republished in the London Times. In response to his protest, 
the Supreme Army Command declared that Baker's figures were "purely 
American bluff, calculated and intended to mislead the German people." 
But the government not only concealed the truth ; it lied about the number 
of Americans in France and even compelled the press to lie. A confidential 
communication issued to the press in the middle of May, 1918, declared that 
"the number of American combatant troops in France is about ten divisions, 
of which only four are at the front. The total of all troops, both at the front 
and behind the lines, does not exceed 150,000 to 200,000. Press notices con- 
cerning these matters should state that America has not been able to fulfil its 



Captain von Briininghaus of the Admiralty reported that 
the U-boats were sinking much more tonnage than was being 
built, and that the losses of submarines were much smaller 
than those reported by the enemy. 

The tone of the aged Chancellor's speech was such that 
his words carried no conviction. The war-weary, discouraged 
people could not but see in them an admission that all was 

And then came a blow that was felt by everybody. Bul- 
garia surrendered. The first breach had been made in the 
alliance of the Central Powers; the collapse had begun and 
its significance was plain to the humblest German. Bulgaria's 
defection came as no surprise to the government, which had 
known for nearly a week that such an event was at least 
probable. On September 23d, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria 
had summoned a grand council to consider the situation. The 
result was that a formal demand was made on Berlin and 
Vienna for immediate assistance. Germany and Austria rec- 
ognized the urgency of the situation, but they were unable to 
meet Bulgaria's demands. Both governments promised help 
in the near future and besought King Ferdinand to keep up 
the struggle for a short time. 

The King realized the emptiness of these promises. There 
was, moreover, a powerful personal dynastic interest at 
stake. Revolution of the reddest type already threatened 
his crown. Workmen and soldiers were organizing Soviets 
in Sofia on the familiar Bolshevik plan, and riotous demon- 
strations had been held in front of the royal palace. Help 
from Berlin and Vienna was obviously out of the question. 
Ferdinand turned to the Entente. 

The negotiations were brief. Bulgaria surrendered un- 
conditionally. Her railways and all other means of trans- 
portation were handed over to the Allies to be used for mili- 
tary or any other purposes. All strategic points in the king- 
expectations in the way of sending troops, and that the earlier estimates of 
the German General Staff as to what America could accomplish have proved 
to be true. The actual figures given above should in no case be mentioned." 
At this time there were nearly one million Americans in France, and it is 
inconceivable that the German Supreme Army Command did not know it. 



dom were likewise given into the control of Germany's ene- 
mies, and Bulgaria undertook to withdraw immediately all 
her troops from Greece and Serbia and disarm them. 

As an ally Bulgaria had long ceased to play a decisive 
part in Germany's military operations, but her surrender, 
apart from its moral effect, was nevertheless disastrous for 
Germany. General Mackensen's army suddenly found itself 
in a hostile land, with its route of retreat threatened. Thou- 
sands of German locomotives and cars, badly needed at home, 
stood on tracks now handed over to the control of Germany's 

Worst of all, completed enemy occupation of Bulgaria 
meant the isolation of Germany from another ally, for the 
only route to Constantinople ran through Bulgaria. The 
days of the Balkan Express, whose initial trip had been ac- 
claimed as the inauguration of what would some day be- 
come the Berlin-to-Bagdad line, were numbered. Turkey, 
isolated, would no longer be able to carry on the war, and 
reports were already current that Turkey would follow Bul- 
garia's example. British troops were but a few miles from 
Damascus, and Bonar Law, reporting in a speech at Guild- 
hall the surrender of Bulgaria, added : 

"There is also something in connection with Turkey which 
I cannot say, but which we can all think." 

Uneasy rumors that Austria was also about to follow the 
lead of Bulgaria spread through Germany. 

The Kaiser, wiser than his reactionary advisers, issued 
on the last day of September a proclamation, in which he 
declared it to be his will that "the German people shall 
henceforth more effectively cooperate in deciding the des- 
tinies of the Fatherland." 

But the destinies of the Fatherland had already been de- 
cided by other than political forces. The iron wall in the 
West that had for more than four years withstood the shocks 
of the armies of a great part of the civilized world was dis- 
integrating or bending back. In the North the Belgians, 
fighting on open ground, were encircling Roulers, lying on 
the railway connecting Lille with the German submarine 
bases in Zeebrugge and Ostende, and another junction on 



this important route, Menin, was menaced by the British. 
Unless the enemy could be stopped here, all the railways in 
the important triangle of Lille, Ghent, and Bruges must 
soon be lost, and their loss meant the end of the U-boats as 
an important factor in the war. 

To the north and west of Cambrai the British, only a mile 
from the center of the city, were forcing their way forward 
relentlessly, and the French were closing in from the south 
on the doomed city, which was in flames. British and Ameri- 
can troops were advancing steadily on St. Quentin and the 
French were approaching from the south. The American 
forces between the Argonnes and the Meuse were moving 
ahead, but slowly, for the Germans had weakened their 
lines elsewhere in order to concentrate heavy forces against 
the men from across the sea. 

Count Hertling confessed political shipwreck by resign- 
ing the chancellorship. With him went Vice Chancellor von 
Payer and Foreign Minister von Hintze. The Kaiser asked 
Prince Max (Maximilian), heir to the throne of the Grand 
Duchy of Baden, to accept the post. He complied. 

The choice of Prince Max was plainly a concession to and 
an acknowledgement of the fact that Germany had become 
overwhelmingly democratic, and it was at the same time a 
virtual confession that the military situtation was desperate 
and that peace must soon be sought. Baden had always been 
one of the most democratic of the German federal states, 
and the Prince was, despite his rank, a decidedly demo- 
cratic man. In the first years of the war he had distinguished 
himself as a humane enemy, and had well earned the tribute 
paid to him by Ambassador James W. Gerard in the 
Ambassador's book. My Four Years in Germany. This 
tribute was paid in connection with a proposal to place 
Prince Max at the head of a central organization for pris- 
oners of war in Germany. The appointment, said Gerard, 
would have redounded to the benefit of Germany and the 

Prince Max had for some years been recognized as the 
leader of the Delbriick group of moderates, and his name 
had been considered for the chancellorship when Dr. 



Michalis resigned. That he was not then appointed was 
due chiefly to his own reluctance, based upon dynastic rea- 
sons. He had never been in sympathy with Schrecklich- 
keit in any of its manifestations, and was known to be out of 
sympathy with the ruling caste in Prussia. Early in 1918 he 
had made public a semi-official interview outlining his ideas 
as to what Germany's peace terms should be. These were 
in general in accordance with the resolution of the majority 
bloc of the Reichstag of July 19, 191 7, and condemned all 
annexations of foreign territory and all punitive indemni- 
ties. He declared also that the interests of Europe and 
America would be best served by a peace which should not 
disrupt the Anglo-Saxon-Teutonic peoples, since Germany 
mlist be maintained as a bulwark against the spread of 
Bolshevism to the nations westward. The conclusion seems 
justified that the government believed that Prince Max, un- 
compromised and with known democratic leanings, could 
secure a more favorable peace for Germany than any other 
man who could be named. 

And the government knew that peace must be had. It 
had heard so on October 2, the day before Prince Max's ap- 
pointment, from the lips of a man who brought a message 
from Hindenburg and Ludendorff. What had long been 
feared had become a reality — an armistice must be request- 
ed. The bearer of these calamitous tidings was Major von 
Busche. Word had been sent that he was coming, and the 
leaders of the various Reichstag parties assembled to hear 
his message. Nominally the message came from Hinden- 
burg, as commander-in-chief, but really it was Ludendorff 
speaking through Hindenburg and his emissary. 

The message was brief; Hindenburg, said Major von 
Busche, had become convinced that a request for an armis- 
tice must be made. The General Field Marshal had de- 
clared, however, that if the request should be refused, or if 
dishonoring conditions should be imposed, the fight must 
and could go on. He had no intention of throwing his rifle 
into the ditch. If necessary, Germany could continue fight- 
ing in enemy territory for months. Von Busche did not 



admit in so many words that all hope of an eventual victory 
had been lost, but that was the effect of his message. 

The men who heard from the highest military authori- 
ties in this blunt manner that the situation was even worse 
than they had feared were dumfounded. If Hindenburg 
and Ludendorff had given up, there was nothing to be said. 
It was decided to ask for an armistice. 

Prince Max was inclined to refuse to become Imperial 
Chancellor if it meant that his first act must be a confession 
of the impossibility of carrying on the war longer — for that, 
he perceived clearly, would be the natural and logical de- 
duction from a request for an armistice. He particularly 
.disapproved of making the request as the first act of his 
chancellorship. This, he pointed out, would give a needless 
appearance of desperate haste and increase the depressing 
effect of the action, which would in any event be serious 

Prince Max's attitude at this crisis was explained by him 
in an article in the Preussische Jahrbiicher following the 
armistice. He wrote then : 

" My peace policy was gravely hampered by the request 
for an armistice, which was presented to me completely 
formulated when I reached Berlin. I opposed it on practical 
political grounds. It seemed to me to be a great mistake to 
permit the new government's first step toward peace to be 
followed by such a surprising confession of German weak- 
ness. Neither our own people nor the enemy countries esti- 
mated our military situation to be such that a desperate step 
of this kind was necessary. I made a counter-proposal. The 
government should as its first act draw up a detailed pro- 
gram of its war-aims, and this program should demonstrate 
to the whole world our agreement with Wilson's principles 
and our honest willingness to make heavy national sacri- 
fices for these principles. 

"The military authorities replied that it was impossible 
to await the result of such a declaration. The situation at the 
front required that a request for an armistice be made within 
twenty-four hours. If I refused to make it, the old govern- 
ment would make it. I thereupon decided to form a new 



government and to support the unavoidable request for an 
armistice with the authority of a cabinet of uncompromised 
men. A week later the military authorities informed me 
that they had erred in their estimate of the situation at the 
front on October ist." 

Dr. Solf, formerly head of the German Colonial Office, 
became Foreign Minister, and Philip Scheidemann, the So- 
cialist leader, and Deputy Groeber, a Clerical leader, also 
entered the new ministry. It was the first German ministry 
to contain a Social-Democrat, and the first which could be 
said to have strong democratic leanings. Opinion in Wash- 
ington, according to a cablegram reaching Copenhagen 
early on October 4th, was that the makeup of the cabinet 
was regarded in America "as a desperate attempt of German 
militarists to hoodwink the Entente and the German people 
into the belief that Germany is being democratized." This 
opinion was inspired more by the passions of war than by 
clear thinking. Germany was being democratized. That the 
democratic concessions attempted by various state rulers 
were inspired by fear is true, but their motives are of no 
importance. It is fruits that count, and the time had come 
when the German people could not longer be hoodwinked 
themselves by the militarists, nor be used as tools in hood- 
winking anybody else. That time, however, had come too 

On October 6th, Prince Max, addressing the Reichstag, 
announced that a request for an armistice had been made. 
This request, which was addressed to President Wilson, 
said : 

"The German Government requests the President of the 
United States to take in hand the restoring of peace, to 
acquaint all the belligerent states with this request, and to 
invite them to send plenipotentiaries for the purpose of 
opening negotiations. 

"It accepts the program set forth by the President of the 
United States in his message to Congress on January 8th, 
and in his later pronouncements, particularly his speech of 
September 27th, as a basis for peace negotiations. 

"With a view to avoiding further bloodshed, the German 



Government requests the immediate conclusion of an armi- 
stice on land and water and in the air." 

Secretary of State Lansing sent the following reply on 
October 8th : 

"Before replying to the request of the Imperial^ German 
Government, and in order that that reply shall be as candid 
and straightforward as the momentous interests involved 
require, the President of the United States deems it neces- 
sary to assure himself of the exact meaning of the note of 
the Imperial Chancellor. Does the Imperial Chancellor mean 
that the Imperial German Government accepts the terms 
laid down by the President in his address to the Congress 
of the United States on the 8th of January last and in sub- 
sequent addresses, and that its object in entering into dis- 
cussions would be only to agree upon the practical details of 
their application? 

"The President feels bound to say with regard to the sug- 
gestion of an armistice that he would not feel at liberty to 
propose a cessation of arms to the governments with which 
the Government of the United States is associated against 
the Central Powers so long as the armies of those powers are 
upon their soil. The good faith of any discussion would 
manifestly depend upon the consent of the Central Powers 
immediately to withdraw their forces everywhere from in- 
vaded territory. The President also feels that he is justified 
in asking whether the Imperial Chancellor is speaking mere- 
ly for the constituted authorities of the Empire who have so 
far conducted the war. He deems the answer to these ques- 
tions vital from every point of view." 

Foreign Secretary Solf replied four days later with a note 
accepting President Wilson's peace terms as laid down in 
the "fourteen points" and the supplementary five points 
later enunciated. He declared that the German Government 
was prepared to evacuate occupied territory, and suggested 
the appointment of a mixed commission to arrange the de- 
tails. He asserted that the Chancellor, in making his request, 

'It will be noticed that Prince Max did not use the designation "Imperial" 
in connection with the government The omission was undoubtedly deliber- 
ate and intended to emphasize the democratic nature of the new cabinet 



was supported by the vast majority of the Reichstag and 
spoke in the name of the German Government and the Ger- 
man people. 

The effect of the request for an armistice was, so far as 
the enemy countries were concerned, precisely what Prince 
Max had foreseen : it was everywhere taken as an admission 
of the hopelessness of the German cause. But its first effect 
within the Empire was not unfavorable. Indeed, there is 
reason to declare that it was favorable. The mass of the 
people reposed much confidence in the new cabinet, and the 
prospect of an early peace buoyed up both the civil popula- 
tion and the soldiers. The front, still being forced slowly 
back, nevertheless held on to every available position with 
grim tenacity and in the face of heavy losses. On October 
8th, they repulsed a determined assault at the center of their 
long front and even counter-attacked in quite the old style. 



The Last Days of Imperial Germany. 

PRINCE MAX, although inspired by the best inten- 
tions and filled with modern and liberal ideas, failed 
to realize that what was needed was not a change of 
men, but a change of methods. Radical, fearless and immedi- 
ate action was necessary, but the government did not perceive 
that every passing day lessened its chances and possiblities. 
It relied upon the slow progress of ordinary business routine. 
It accomplished much, it is true, but it accomplished it too 
slowly and too late. 

Too late the Conservatives in the Prussian Diet aban- 
doned their opposition to a reform of the franchise system. 
On October loth, they adopted this resolution: 

"In the hour of the Fatherland's greatest distress and 
with a realization that we must be equipped for hard bat- 
tles for the integrity of the Fatherland's soil, the Conserva- 
tive Party in the Diet considers it its duty to lay aside all in- 
ternal conflicts. It is also ready to make heavy sacrifices for 
the ends in view. It believes now, as ever, that ia far-reach- 
ing radicalization of the Prussian Constitution will not fur- 
ther the welfare of the Prussian people. It is nevertheless 
prepared to abandon its opposition to the introduction of 
equal franchise in Prussia in accordance with the latest de- 
cisions of its friends in the House of Lords in order to assure 
the formation of a harmonious front against the outside 

This resolution removed the last obstacle to a real reform 
of the Prussian franchise. 

Too late the Federal Council adopted radical amend- 
ments to the Imperial Constitution. On October 13th and 
1 6th, it accepted measures repealing article 21, paragraph 



2, which provided that Reichstag members should forfeit 
their seats if they accepted salaried state or imperial offices, 
and providing that cabinet members should no longer be re- 
quired to be members of the Federal Council, but should at 
all times have the right to demand a hearing before the 
Reichstag. It also amended article 2 to read : "The consent 
of the Federal Council and the Reichstag is required for a 
declaration of war in the Empire's name, except in a case 
where imperial territory has already been invaded or its 
coasts attacked." Section 3 of the same article was amended 
to read : "Treaties of peace and treaties with foreign states 
which deal with affairs coming under the competence of the 
Imperial law-giving bodies require the consent of the Fed- 
eral Council and the Reichstag." 

Too late the rulers of different states promised democratic 
reforms. The crown council of Saxony on October loth 
summoned the Landtag (Diet) for October 26th, and di- 
rected the minister of the interior to draft a measure "which 
shall substitute for the franchise now obtaining for the 
Landtag's second chamber a franchise based on a broader 
foundation." Saxony then had a four-class system. The 
crown council also considered requesting the Socialists to 
join the government. 

The King of Bavaria caused it to be announced that the 
crown had decided to introduce reforms enabling Bavaria's 
popularly elected representatives to participate directly in 
governing the kingdom. Minister Dandl was directed to 
form a new ministry with some Socialist members. It was 
announced also that a proportional franchise system was to 
be introduced and the upper chamber reformed along pro- 
gressive lines. 

The government of Baden announced that steps would 
be taken to abolish the three-class franchise and to intro- 
duce the proportional system. In Wiirttemberg measures 
were prepared providing that the kingdom's representa- 
tives in the Federal Council should take their instructions 
direct from the people's elected representatives, instead of 
from the government. A democratization of the first cham- 
ber was also promised. 



The Grand Duke of Oldenburg, in the address from the 
throne at the opening of the Landtag, declared that re- 
forms were contemplated giving the people increased power 
to decide all important questions of state. The Grand Duke 
of Saxe-Weimar accepted the resignation of his whole min- 
istry and announced that a new ministry would be formed 
from among the members of the Diet. The Diet at Darm- 
stadt unanimously adopted measures providing for a par- 
liamentary form of government in Hesse. 

But while these concessions were being made at home, 
Schrecklichkeit continued to rule unhampered on the sea. 
The Leinster, a passenger boat plying between Kingston 
and Holyhead, was torpedoed by a submarine, and 480 of 
her G^'] passengers were lost. The wave of indignation in 
enemy countries following this act was reflected at home 
in an uneasy feeling that the new Chancellor could as little 
curb militarism as could his predecessors. Ludendorff, too, 
had regained his lost nerve. He told Prince Max that the 
military situation was better than he had believed when 
he recommended that an armistice be requested. Minister 
of War General Scheuch had promised to send six hundred 
thousand new troops to the front. 

The Chancellor's position was also rendered more diffi- 
cult at this time by an agitation for a levee en masse begun 
by some fire-eating Germans of the old school. The possi- 
bility of a military dictatorship was discussed, and an ap- 
peal was made to "the spirit of 1813." The natural result 
was to increase the prevailing hostility to everybody in 
authority, whether he had been connected with the former 
governments or not. 

The Independent Socialists and their Spartacan breth- 
ren grew bolder. Dr. Oskar Cohn, who had made a speech 
in the Reichstag four months earlier, denouncing the war 
as "a Hohenzollern family affair," now openly declared in 
the same assembly that the Kaiser must go. 

"The question can no longer be evaded," he said. "Shall 
it be war with the Hohenzollerns or peace without the Ho- 
henzollerns? World- revolution will follow on world-im- 
perialism and world-militarism, and we shall overcome 



them. We extend our hands to our friends beyond the fron- 
tiers in this struggle." 

Liebknecht, released from prison on October 20th by a 
general amnesty, celebrated his release by attacking the 
Kaiser and the government that released him. On October 
27th, he addressed a half dozen Independent Socialist meet- 
ings, and called for a revolution of the proletariat and the 
overthrow of the capitalists and bourgeoisie of all lands. He 
closed each speech with cries of "Down with the Hohenzol- 
lerns!" and "Long live the Socialist Republic!" Nothing 
could more clearly demonstrate the helplessness of the gov- 
ernment than the fact that Liebknecht was neither compelled 
to stop talking nor arrested. There were outbreaks of riot- 
ing in Berlin on the same day, but they were largely due to 
the unwise and provocatory measures of the police, who to 
the last preserved a steadfast loyalty to the government and 
to that grim sense of duty that had marked the Prussian 
Beamier in former days. 

The Reichstag passed on last reading the measures sent 
from the Federal Council to put into effect the Kaiser's rec- 
ommendations of September 30th. Their most important 
provision was one placing the military command under con- 
trol of the civil government, which had been demanded by 
the Majority Socialists as one of their conditions for par- 
ticipation in the government. The Kaiser sent to the Impe- 
rial Chancellor on October 28th the following decree: 

"I send your Grand Ducal Highness in the enclosure 
the measures for the alteration of the Imperial Constitution 
and of the laws concerning the representative powers of the 
Chancellor, of March 17, 1878, for immediate promulga- 
tion. It is my wish, in connection with this step, which is so 
full of meaning for the German people, to give expression 
to the feelings that move me. Prepared by a number of acts 
of the government, a new order of things now becomes ef- 
fective, transferring fundamental rights from the person 
of the Kaiser to the people. Thus there is closed a period 
which will endure in honor in the eyes of future generations. 

"Despite all struggles between inherited powers and 
forces striving to raise themselves, this period discloses itself 



unforgettably in the wonderful accomplishments of the war. 
In the fearful storms of the four years of the war, however, 
old formulae have been shattered, not to leave ruins, but 
rather to give way to new forms of life. In view of the ac- 
complishments of this period, the German people can de- 
mand that no right shall be withheld from them which in- 
sures a free and happy future. The measures proposed by 
the allied governments^ and now accepted by the Reichstag 
owe their existence to this conviction. 

"I accept these decisions of the people's representatives, 
together with my exalted allies, in the firm desire to co- 
operate, as far as lies in my power, in rendering them effect- 
ive, and in the conviction that I shall thus serve the inter- 
ests of the German people. 

"The post of Kaiser means service of the people {Das 
Kaiser aint ist Dienst am Volke). 

"May the new order release all good forces which our 
people need in order to endure the hard trials that have been 
visited upon the Empire, and to win the way, with firm 
step, from out the dark present to a bright future." 

These were fine phrases, but, like all other pronuncia- 
mentos and reforms of October, they came too late. The po- 
litical censorship had recently been relaxed, and the people, 
ignorant though they may have been of actual conditions 
at home, knew what was going on within the borders of 
their greatest ally. Ten days earlier a strike had been begun 
at Prague as a peace demonstration, and had involved much 
of Bohemia and Moravia. At Budapest revolution was in 
the air, and the Magyar deputies of the Parliament were 
openly discussing the question of declaring Hungary's in- 
dependence. On October 17th, Kaiser Karl announced that 
steps were to be taken to reorganize the Monarchy on a fed- 
eralized basis. 

Two days later President Wilson rejected Baron Burian's 
peace offer. He declared that the United States Government 
had recognized the Czecho-Slovak state and the aspirations 
of the Jugo-Slavs, and he was therefore "no longer at lib- 
erty to accept the mere autonomy of these peoples as a basis 

^Here meaning merely the German federal states. 



of peace, but is obliged to insist that they and not he shall be 
the judges of what action on the part of the Austro-Hun- 
garian Government will satisfy their aspirations and their 
conception of their rights and destiny as members of the 
family of nations." 

Count Michael Karolyi, leader of the opposition in 
Hungary, on the same day, in a speech in the lower house 
of Parliament at Budapest, attacked the alliance of Austria- 
Hungary with Germany. He admitted that the Central Pow- 
ers had lost the war, and appealed to his countrymen to "try 
to save the peace." A memorial was sent to Kaiser Karl de- 
claring that "Hungary must return to its autonomy and 
complete independence." 

The Czechs were already in virtual control in Prague. 
Magyar Hungary was rotten with Bolshevism, the fruits of 
the propaganda of returned soldiers and Russian agents. 
Croatian soldiers at Fiume had revolted. Baron Burian re- 
tired and was succeeded by Count Andrassy. 

Much of this was known to all Germans when the Kaiser's 
decree was issued. But they did not know what the Kaiser 
and his advisers knew, and they did not know why Luden- 
dorff had deserted the sinking ship a day earlier, sending 
his resignation to the Kaiser and being succeeded as Quar- 
termaster-General by General Groener. All indications 
had, indeed, pointed to the defection of Austria, but so long 
as it did not come the Germans — that is, such of them as had 
not completely lost hope or been infected with international- 
ist doctrines — still had a straw to cling to. 

On October 26th Kaiser Karl informed the German Em- 
peror that he intended to ask for peace "within twenty-four 
hours." He invited Germany to join in the request. Before 
the German reply could be received Count Andrassy sent a 
note to Washington accepting President Wilson's conditions 
for an armistice and for peace, and declaring that Austria- 
Hungary was ready, "without awaiting the result of other 
negotiations, to enter into negotiations upon peace between 
Austria- Hungary and the states in the opposing group, and 
for an immediate armistice upon all the Dual Monarchy's 



On October 29th the government at Vienna issued a re- 
port declaring that a note had been sent to Secretary Lan- 
sing, asking him to "have the goodness to intervene with 
the President of the United States in order that, in the in- 
terests of humanity as well as in the interests of all those 
peoples who live in Austria-Hungary, an immediate ar- 
mistice may be concluded on all fronts, and for an overture 
that immediate negotiations for peace may follow." A semi- 
official statement was issued the same day in an attempt to 
make it appear that the Dual Monarchy had not been 
recreant to its treaty agreement not to conclude a separate 
peace. Count Andrassy's note to Lansing, it was explained, 
did not "necessarily mean an offer of a separate peace. It 
means merely that Austria-Hungary is ready to act sepa- 
rately in the interests of the reestablishment of peace." 

The fine distinction between "separate peace" and "sepa- 
rate action to reestablish peace" could deceive nobody. All 
Germany staggered under the blow, and while she was still 
staggering, there came another. Turkey quit. Germany stood 
alone, deserted, betrayed. 

Fast on the heels of the Austrian collapse came the terror 
of defeated governments — revolution. The ink had not dried 
on Vienna's note on October 29th before students and work- 
ingmen began assembling in front of the Parliament build- 
ings in the Austrian capital. Officers in uniform addressed 
cheering thousands, and called on the soldiers among their 
hearers to remove the national colors from their caps and 
uniforms. President Dinghofer of the National Council de- 
clared that the council would take over the whole administra- 
tion of the country, "but without the Habsburgs." When, 
on the same afternoon, the National Assembly came together 
for its regular session, a crowd gathered in front of the Diet 
and cheered a huge red flag unfurled by workingmen on the 
very steps of the Diet building. 

Revolution is both contagious and spontaneous in defeat. 
The news from Vienna was followed by reports of revolution 
in Hungary. In Budapest laborers plundered the military de- 
pots and armed themselves. InPrague the Prager Haus-Regi- 
ment. No. 28, took charge of the revolution. This was one 



of the regiments that had been disbanded in 191 5 for treach- 
ery in the Carpathians. Now it came into its own. Count 
Michael Karolyi telegraphed on October 31st to the Berlin 
Tagehlatt : 

" Revolution in Budapest. National Council has taken 
over the government. Military and police acknowledge Na- 
tional Council completely. Inhabitants rejoicing." 

The message was signed by Karolyi as president of the 
National Council. 

The revolution in Bohemia exercised a particularly de- 
pressing effect upon loyal Germans because of its outspoken 
anti-German character. Even in these first days the Czech- 
ish newspapers began discussing the division of German 
territories. The Vecer demanded Vienna as a part of the 
new Czecho-Slovak state on the ground that a majority of 
the city's inhabitants or their ancestors originally came from 
Bohemia and Moravia. The Narodini Listy gave notice that 
the Germans of Northern Bohemia would not be permitted 
to join Germany. These were among the more moderate de- 
mands made by this press. 

"What will the Kaiser do?" asked the Berlin Vorwdrts 
in its leading article on the last day of October. The article 
voiced a question which all but the most extreme reaction- 
aries had been asking for two weeks. Even men devoted to 
the monarch personally and themselves convinced monarch- 
ists in principle realized that the only hope of securing a 
just peace lay in sacrificing Kaiser Wilhelm. Scheidemann, 
the Socialist Secretary of State, wrote to Chancellor Prince 
Max, declaring that the Kaiser must retire, and that his 
letter had been written "in agreement with the leaders of 
the Socialist party and its representatives in the Reichstag." 
Up to the time of the publication of the Vorwdrts leader the 
authorities had forbidden any public discussion of the Kais- 
er's abdication. The censorship restrictions on this subject 
were now removed and the press was permitted to discuss it 

But while many of the party leaders were already inward- 
ly convinced that the supreme sacrifice of abdication must 
be made by the Kaiser, none of the Empire's political par- 



ties except the two Socialist parties considered it politically 
expedient to make the demand. Even the Progressives, 
farthest to the left of all the bourgeois parties, not only re- 
fused to follow the Socialists' lead, but went on record as 
opjaosed to abdication. At a convention of the party in 
Greater Berlin on November 6th, Dr. Mugdan, one of the 
party's prominent Reichstag deputies, reporting the attitude 
of the party on the question of abdication, said : 

"The Progressives do not desire to sow further unrest 
and confusion among the German people." 

This was the attitude of a majority of the leaders among 
the people. It was dictated less by loyalty to the sovereign 
than by a realization that the disintegrating propaganda of 
the Internationalists had affected so large a part of the 
people that the abdication of the Kaiser would almost in- 
evitably bring the collapse of the state. They could not yet 
realize that this collapse was inevitable in any case, nor that 
the number of those devoted to the Kaiser was comparative- 
ly so small that it was of little consequence whether he re- 
mained on the throne or abdicated. 

The Kaiser himself, as will be seen later,^ was mainly 
moved by the same considerations. He believed chaos would 
certainly follow his abdication. It is also far from improb- 
able that he had not yet abandoned all hope of military 
victory. The German army leaders, in trying to deceive the 
people into a belief that a successful termination of the war 
was still possible, had doubtless deceived their monarch as 
well. Possibly they had even deceived themselves. Field 
Marshal von Hindenburg sent a message to the press on 
November 3d, wherein he declared : 

" Our honor, freedom and future are now at stake. We 
are invincible if we are united. If the German army be 
strongly supported by the will of the people, our Fatherland 
will brave all onslaughts." 

But while Hindenburg was writing the situation was 
altering for the worse with every hour. Kaiser Karl had 
fled from Vienna. German officers had been attacked in Bu- 
charest. Bavarian troops had been refused permission to 

^Vide chapter X. 



use railways in Austrian Tirol. German troops had been 
disarmed and robbed in Bohemia and even in Hungary. The 
German armies in the West were still fighting bravely, but 
even the ingeniously worded communiques of Great Head- 
quarters could not conceal the fact that they were being 
steadily thrown back, with heavy loss of prisoners and guns. 
Rumors of serious revolts in the fleet were circulating from 
mouth to mouth and, after the manner of rumors, growing as 
they circulated. Even the monarchist, Conservative Lokal- 
Anzeiger had to admit the gravity of the situation. On 
November 6th it declared that "a mighty stream" was rol- 
ling through the land, and every one who had eyes to see 
and ears to hear could perceive "whither this current is set- 
ting." It continued : 

" New factors of great importance have increased the con- 
fusion : the collapse of our allies, their complete submission 
to the will of our enemies, the multiplication thereby of the 
military dangers that surround us, and, not least, the cat- 
astrophic dissolution of all order in Austria-Hungary. The 
blind fanaticism of Bolshevism, which would with brutal 
force tear down everj^thing in its way and destroy in Ger- 
many as well every remnant of authority, is planning now, 
in the very moment when the final decision must be reached, 
to play into the hands of our enemies through internal revo- 
lution. We will not at this time discuss whether the authori- 
ties have done their complete duty in putting down this 
movement, which everyone could see growing. It is enough 
to say that the danger is here, and duty demands that we 
stand together from left to right, from the top to the bottom, 
to render these destroying elements harmless or, if it be too 
late for that, to strike them to the ground. 

"And another thing must be said. Just as the people's 
government has undertaken to bring about a peace that does 
not destroy the vital interests of the German people, * * * it 
must just as energetically endeavor to protect us from in- 
ternal collapse with all the strength and all the authority 
which its constitution as a people's government confers upon 
it. * * * When, as now, the overthrow of all existing insti- 
tutions is being preached, when the people's government is 



disregarded and recourse is had to force, the government 
must realize that there is but one thing to do. The people, 
whose representatives the members of government are, want 
concrete evidence that an insignificant minority will not be 
permitted to trample upon the institutions of state and so- 
ciety under whose protection we have heretofore lived. * * * 
The German Empire is not yet ripe for the disciples of Len- 
ine and Trotzky." 

General von Hellingrath, Bavarian Minister of War, is- 
sued a proclamation calling on the people to preserve order 
and not to lose their confidence in the government. A report 
that Bavariai) troops had been sent to the North Tirol to 
protect Bavaria's borders against possible aggression by 
Czechish and Jugo-Slavic troops of the former ally further 
depressed all Germans, and particularly the South Germans. 

The new government made an appeal to the people's rea- 
son. In a proclamation issued on November 4th and signed 
by Prince Max and all other members of the cabinet, includ- 
ing Scheidemann, it called attention to the parliamentary 
reforms already accomplished and summoned the people to 
give their fullest support to the government. These reforms 

Equal franchise in Prussia; the formation of a govern- 
ment from the majority parties of the Reichstag; the Chan- 
cellor and his ministers could retain office only if they pos- 
sessed the confidence of the Reichstag and hence of the 
people ; declarations of war and conclusions of peace now re- 
quired the assent of the Reichstag; the military had been 
subordinated to the civil authorities; a broad amnesty had 
been declared, and the freedom of assemblage and of the 
press assured. 

"The alteration of Germany into a people's state, which 
shall not stand in the rear of any state in the world in re- 
spect of political freedom and social reforms, will be carried 
further with decision," said the proclamation. 

It was a very respectable array of real reforms that was 
thus set forth. If they had come a few months earlier the 
subsequent course of Germany's and the whole world's his- 
tory would doubtless have been changed. But, unknown to 
the great mass of Germans except through wild rumor, rev- 
olution had already come and the German Empire was tot- 
tering to its fall. 



A Revolt Which Became a 

THE elements that had long been working to bring 
about a revolution had for months been nearer their 
goal than even they themselves suspected, but they 
were nevertheless not ready for the final step when events, 
taking the bit into their teeth, ran away with the revolu- 
tionists along the very road which they had wanted to 

It lies in the nature of the employment of those that go 
down to the sea in ships that they are more resolute and 
reckless than their shore-keeping brothers, and less amen- 
able to discipline. They are also subject to certain cosmo- 
politan, international influences which do not further blind 
patriotism. Furthermore, the percentage of rude, violent 
and even criminally inclined men is proportionately higher 
afloat than ashore. The Russian revolution of 1905 started 
among the sailors in Cronstadt. The same men set the ex- 
ample in atrocities. against officers in the Russian revolution 
of 191 7. Sailors played a prominent part in the Portuguese 
revolution, and there are few fleets in the world without 
their history of rough deeds done by mutinous mariners. 

OnOctober28th there came an order from the Admiralty 
at Berlin that the fleet was to be prepared for a cruise into 
the North Sea. Just what this cruise was intended to ac- 
complish is not clear. High naval officers have assured the 
writer that it was to have been primarily a reconnaissance, 
and that no naval battle was intended or desired. The report 
circulated among the crews, however, that a last desperate 
stand was to be made, in which the whole fleet would be 



sacrificed, but in which as great losses as possible were to be 
inflicted on the British Fleet. This was not at all to the liking 
of men demoralized by long idleness — an idleness, more- 
over, in which Bolshevist Satans had found much work for 
them to do. 

Just at this time, too, came a gruesome story which fur- 
ther unfavorably affected the crews' morale. A submarine 
cruiser, it was reported, had become entangled in a net, but 
had freed itself and reached port, dragging the net with it. 
When the net was pulled ashore, it was declared, three small 
U-boats were found fast in it, their crews dead of suffoca- 
tion. The story was probably false, but it increased the men's 
opposition to the cruise ordered. They were also disquieted 
by the fact that large numbers of floating mines were being 
brought aboard the speedier cruisers. 

Rumblings of the coming storm were heard first on board 
the battleships Thiiringen and Helgoland, a. part of whose 
crews flatly refused to obey orders to carry out the cruise 
ordered by the Admiralty. The mutiny was not general 
even aboard these ships, and it was quickly quelled. The 
embers, however, smouldered for three days and then burst 
into flame. 

Alone among the great revolutions of the world, the Ger- 
man revolution was the work of the humblest of the pro- 
letariat, unplanned and unguided by bourgeois elements. It 
came from below not only in the figurative but also in the 
literal sense of the word, for it came from the very hold of a 
battleship. It was the stokers of the Markgraf at Kiel who 
set rolling the stone which became the avaianche of revolu- 

The crews of the Markgraf and of some of the other ships 
in the Kiel squadron demanded that the mines be taken 
ashore and the projected cruise abandoned. The officers re- 
fused their demands. Thereupon the stokers of the Markgraf 
left the ship and went ashore. This was on Sunday morning, 
November 3d. The stokers were joined by members of other 
ships' crews ashore at the time, and a meeting was held. 
When the stokers returned to the Markgraf they found her 
guarded by marines and they were not permitted to come 



aboard. They boarded another ship nearby and demanded 
their dinner. Messtime had passed while they were holding 
their meeting ashore, and their demand was refused. The 
stokers broke into the provision-rooms and helped them- 
selves. Thereupon the mutineers, about one hundred and fifty 
in number, were arrested and taken to the military prison in 
the center of the city. All the small boats of the Markgraf 
were taken ashore to prevent the rest of the crew from reach- 
ing land. 

When the arrest of the mutinous stokers became known 
aboard their battleship there was an outburst of indigna- 
tion. The officers, in sending the boats ashore, had over- 
looked an old barge which lay alongside the ship. As many 
of the crew as the barge could carry clambered into it and 
rowed ashore, using boards as paddles. Then they sent the 
small boats back to bring ashore the rest of their comrades. 
At four o'clock in the afternoon practically the entire crew of 
the Markgraf held a meeting on the large promenade and 
maneuver grounds near the harbor. A great many members 
of other ships' crews attended this meeting. Violent speeches 
were made and it was decided to demand the immediate re- 
lease of the Markgrafs stokers. Shortly before six o'clock 
the inflamed mob — it was already little else — went to the 
Waldwiese (city park), where a company of the First Ma- 
rine Division was quartered. The mutineers demolished the 
barracks, released several men who were locked up for minor 
military offenses, and stole all the arms and ammunition in 
the place. 

An ordered procession then started toward the center of 
the city. It grew steadily in size as it went through accretions 
from sailors, marines and other members of war-vessels' 
crews, and also from the riotous and criminal elements 
common to all larger cities and especially to harbor-cities. 

The military authorities had meanwhile made prepara- 
tions to deal with the mutineers. As early as four o'clock 
erhohte Alarmbereitschajt (literally, "increased readiness 
to respond to an alarm") had been ordered. Buglers and 
drummers passed through the streets, proclaiming the order 
and warning against demonstrations. 



The mutineers' procession reached the central railway- 
station about 7 P.M., and proceeded, its numbers increasing 
steadily, through the Holsteinstrasse to the Market Place. 
It passed through the Danische Strasse and Brunswiger- 
strasse toward Feldstrasse, in which was situated the mili- 
tary prison where the Markgraf stokers were confined. The 
procession had by this time become a howling, whistling, 
singing mob, whose progress could be heard many blocks 
away. Passers-by were compelled to join the procession. The 
entrances to the Hospitalstrasse and to the Karlstrasse at the 
so-called Hojfnung, near the prison, were guarded by strong 
military forces, and the prison itself was protected by a 
machine-gun detachment. Firemen were also ready to turn 
their hoses on the mob. 

The procession reached the Hojfnung and prepared to 
force its way into the Karlstrasse. The commander of the 
troops stationed there ordered the mob to halt. His order 
was disregarded. The troops fired a blind volley over the 
heads of the mutineers, who nevertheless forged steadily 
ahead. The next volley was poured into the ranks of the 
marchers. It was followed by shrieks of rage, by scattering 
shots from the mutineers and by some stone-throwing. There 
was a sharp conflict for two or three minutes, and then the 
mob, howling and cursing, scattered panic-striken. -"^ Eight 
of them lay dead on the street, and twenty-nine were 
wounded. The officer in command of the troops and one 
lieutenant were also fatally injured, the former by knife- 
thrusts and stones. 

An hour later the street was quiet, and the night passed 
without further disturbances. The city was strongly pa- 
trolled, but otherwise there was nothing to indicate that the 
curtain had gone up on the world's greatest and most tragic 

The leaders of the mutineers spent most of Sunday night 
and Monday morning in conference. A Soldiers' Council 

*In all the clashes that marked the subsequent course of the German revo- 
lution not one instance can be found where the enemies of authority failed 
to run like sheep before loyal troops and determined officers. The "martyrs 
of the revolution" were mainly killed by stray bullets or overtaken by bullets 
while they were running away. 



was formed — the first in Germany. The military governor of 
Kiel issued a proclamation, calling upon the mutineers to 
formulate and present their demands. They complied. Their 
demands were : The release of all persons arrested for 
breach of discipline; recognition of the Soldiers' Council; 
abolishing of the duty to salute superiors ;^ officers and men 
to have the same rations ; the proposed expedition of the 
fleet to be abandoned, and, in general, better treatment of 
the ships' crews. The governor accepted all these demands, 
and announcement was made to that effect by wireless to all 
ships in the Kiel squadron. The mutineers declared them- 
selves satisfied, and promised to resume their duties, to obey 
orders and to preserve order in the city and board their ships. 

In circumstances at all approaching the normal this would 
have marked the end of the revolt. But all the circumstances 
were abnormal. The men of the navy had, indeed, suffered 
fewer actual privations and hardships than those of the land 
forces, but even they had been underfed. Their families, in 
common with all Germans at home, had endured bitter want, 
and had written thousands of complaining letters to their 
relatives afloat.^ The Socialist cantagion — particularly of 
the Independent brand — had affected wide circles among 
sailors and marines. Indeed, the chief field of operations of 
the Riihles, Haases, Cohns and their Russian helpers had 
been the navy, where idle hands invited the finding of mis- 
chief for them to do. The morale of the members of the navy 
had also, in common with the morale of the land troops and 
of the whole German people, been badly shaken by the re- 
verses that began in July, 191 8, and by the desertion of 
Germany by her allies. 

In addition to and above all this there were two fatal 
factors : authority, the corner stone of all civilized govem- 

^It is difficult to understand why Socialists attach such importance to this 
question. It will be remembered that the very first decree issued by Kerensky 
was his famous (and fatal) "Prikaz No. i," abolishing the salute. The So- 
cialists, it is true, hate authority as embodied in a state, yet they voluntarily 
submit to a party authority quite as rigid as that of Prussian militarism. 

'Complaining letters from home to the men in the trenches were early 
recognized by the authorities as a source of danger for the spirit of the 



ments, had been shaken, and the mutineers had learned their 
own strength. If horses were sentient beings with means of 
communicating their thoughts, and if all the horses of a 
certain community suddenly discovered that they were real-' 
ly immeasurably stronger than their masters, it would re- 
quire no great effort of imagination to realize that few 
horses in that community would thereafter suffer themselves 
to be harnessed. The only ones that would submit would be 
a small number of especially intelligent animals who could 
look ahead to the winter, with deep snow covering the pas- 
tures, with no straw-bedded stalls and walls set up against 
the cold winds. 

So it was in Kiel. The mutineers had made their first kill ; 
they had tasted blood. From all the ships of the squadron 
they streamed into the city. Patrols, established to maintain 
order, began going over to the revolting seamen. The mu- 
tineers secured more arms and ammunition from the bar- 
racks at the shipyards arid the soldiers stationed there joined 
them. In the afternoon (Monday) the mutineers joined for 
a giant demonstration. A procession numbering possibly 
twenty thousand sailors, marines and soldiers, with a band 
at the head, marched to the different civil and military pris- 
ons and lockups and released the prisoners, who joined the 
procession. The civil and military authorities of Kiel, gravely 
disquieted, had meanwhile communicated with the govern- 
ment at Berlin and asked for help. The government replied 
that it would send Conrad Haussmann and Gustav Noske. 
Haussmann, who had for many years been one of the leaders 
of the Clerical (Catholic) party in the Reichstag, was a 
member of Prince Max's cabinet. He was chosen as the gov- 
ernment's official representative. Noske, who was later to 
demonstrate himself to be one of the few really able and 
forceful men of Germany, had been for some years a member 
of the Reichstag as Majority Socialist. A woodworker by 
trade, he had as a youth lifted himself out of the ruck of his 
party by energy, ambition, hard work and straightforward- 
ness. He became a party secretary and later editor of a So- 
cialist paper in Chemnitz.^ Although not so widely known as 

'The typical career of a German Socialist leader. It is not far afield to 



many other Socialist leaders in the Reichstag, he neverthe- 
less played a prominent part in his party's councils and was 
highly regarded and respected. He enjoyed also a wide 
popularity among members of the fleet, and it was confident- 
ly expected that he would be able to calm the unruly trouble- 
makers and restore order. 

Haussmann and Noske reached Kiel late Monday after- 
noon. The parading mutineers met them at the station. 
Noske, speaking from the top of an automobile, addressed 
the crowd, appealing to their patriotism and to the German 
instinct for orderly procedure. Their main demands, he 
pointed out, had already been granted. The government, 
representing all parties of the empire, promised that all 
grievances should be heard and redressed. The speech ap- 
peared to have some effect. Isolated demonstrations took 
place until into the evening, but there were no serious 
clashes anywhere. 

The situation seemed somewhat more hopeful. The leaders 
on both sides either could not or did not realize what power- 
■ f ul and pernicious influences were working against them. 
The Governor felt his hand strengthened by the presence of 
Haussmann, the Minister; the Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Council was both calmed and encouraged by the presence of 
Noske, the party leader. The members of the council and the 
men representing the Kiel government began a joint session 
in the evening. Four delegates of the Social-Democratic 
party of Kiel also attended the conference, although their 
party had already, at a meeting a few hours earlier, virtual- 
ly decided to order a general sympathy strike. 

The deliberations of the conference showed that the situ- 
ation had suddenly assumed the aspect of a strike, a mere 
labor and party question. The soldier and sailor delegates 
left the debate largely to the party leaders. Both sides, gov- 
ernment and strikers alike, showed themselves honestly de- 
sirous of finding a peaceful settlement. The difficulties 

estimate that seven of every ten of the Socialist leaders and government 
officials in Germany have been or still are members of the editorial staffs of 
Socialist newspapers or magazines. Most of the others are lawyers ; prole- 
tarians who earn their bread by the actual sweat of their brows are rare in 
the party leadership. 



proved, however, to be very great. At i : oo A.M., on Tuesday, 
the conference took a recess. Noske telegraphed to Berlin : 
"Situation serious. Send me another man." But despite all 
difficulties both sides were hopeful. 

Of the many thousands of mutineers, however, there were 
many who were not disposed to await an orderly adjustment 
of the situation. Already potential masters of the squadron, 
they set about transmuting potentiality into actuality. On 
one ship after another the red flag of sedition, the emblem 
of the negation of loyalty to native land, replaced the proud 
imperial standard. It is an amazing thing that in all Ger- 
many not a dozen of the thousands of officers whose fore- 
fathers had for two centuries enjoyed the privileges of an 
exclusive and loyal caste gave their lives for their King in 
an effort to oppose revolt and revolution. At Kiel, and later 
at Hamburg, Swinemiinde, Berlin — in fact, everywhere — 
the mutineers and revolutionaries met no resistance from the 
very men of whom one might have expected that they would 
die, even in a forlorn cause, in obedience to the old principle 
of noblesse oblige. At Kiel there were but three of this heroic 
mold. These men, Whose names deserve to be remembered 
and honored wherever bravery and loyalty are prized, were 
Commander Weniger, Captain Heinemann and Lieutenant 
Zenker of the battleship Konig, who were shot down as, re- 
volver in hand, they defended the imperial standard and 
killed several of the men who were trying to replace it with 
the red rag of revolution. Captain Heine, commandant of 
the city of Kiel, was shot down in the hallway of his home 
Tuesday evening by sailors who had come to arrest him. 
These four men were the only officers deliberately shot in 
Kiel, except the two fatally wounded in Sunday night's 
fighting at the military prison. 

Admiral Krafft, commander of the Kiel squadron, finally 
decided to leave port with his ships. But it was too late. Some 
of the ships had to be left behind, for the mutineers, coming 
alongside in small fishing-steamers and other craft, had 
compelled the loyal remnants of the crews to refuse to obey 
the order to accompany the squadron. Even on the ships least 
affected by the mutiny, hundreds of the crews refused to 



come aboard. Word of the revolt had moreover reached 
other coast cities, and when the ships reached Liibeck, Flens- 
burg, Swinemiinde and other ports, it proved impossible to 
keep the missionaries of mutiny ashore and on shipboard 
from communicating with each other. Thus the contagion 
was spread further. 

Tuesday was a day of tense excitement at Kiel. There was 
some shooting, due — as was also the case later in Berlin — 
to false reports that officers had fired from houses on the 
mutineers. The streets were filled with automobiles carrying 
red flags, and red flags began to appear over various build- 
ings. Noske, feverishly active, devoting all his iron energy 
to restoring order and finding a peaceful solution of the re- 
volt, conferred continuously with representatives of the city 
government, with military and naval authorities and with 
the strikers. The movement still had outwardly only the 
aspect of a strike, serious indeed, but still a strike. He suc- 
ceeded in having countermanded an order bringing troops 
to the city. Despite this, the suspicious mutineers compelled 
the Governor to go with them to the railway station in order 
to send the troops back if it should prove that the counter- 
order had not reached them in time. At the request of the 
mutineers — who treated the Governor with all courtesy — 
he remained at the station until the troop train arrived 

The situation on Tuesday was adversely aff"ected by the 
flight of Prince Heinrich, brother of the Kaiser. He was not 
unpopular with the men of the navy and he was never even 
remotely in danger. Yet he fled from Kiel in an automobile 
and, fleeing, destroyed the remnant of authority which his 
government still enjoyed. The flight itself rendered the 
strikers nervous, and the fact that the death of a marine, who 
was shot while standing on the step of the Prince's automo- 
bile, was at first ascribed to him, enraged the mutineers and 
was a further big factor in rendering nugatory the eff"orts 
of Noske and all others who were honestly striving to find a 
way out of the situation. Autopsy showed that the marine 
had been shot in the back by one of the bullets fired after the 
fleeing automobile by the victim's own comrades. This dis- 



closure, however, came a day later, and then it was too late 
to undo the mischief caused by the first report. 

A "non-resistance" order, the first one of many that helped 
make the revolution possible, was also issued on Tuesday by 
the military authorities. Officers were commanded not to 
use force against the strikers. "Only mutual understanding 
of the demands of the moment can restore orderly condi- 
tions," said the decree. 

Wednesday, the fourth day of the revolt at Kiel, was the 
critical and, as it proved, the decisive day. When night came 
the mutineers were crowned with victory, and the forces of 
orderly government had lost the day. And yet, strangely 
enough, neither side realized this. The strikers believed 
themselves isolated in the corner of an undisturbed empire. 
The more conservative among them began to consider their 
situation in a different light. There was an undercurrent of 
feeling that no help could be looked for from other quarters 
and that a reconciliation with the authorities should be 
sought. Noske shared this feeling. Speaking to the striker's 
delegates late on Wednesday evening, he advised them to 
compromise. Seek an agreement with the government, he 
said in effect. The government is ready and even eager to 
reach a fair compromise. We stand alone, isolated. 

Neither Noske nor the bulk of the mutineers yet knew 
what had been going on elsewhere in northwestern Ger- 
many. The Independent Socialist and Spartacan plotters for 
revolution at Berlin saw in the Kiel events the opportunity 
for which they had been waiting for more than three years, 
and they struck promptly. Haase and some of his followers 
went immediately to Hamburg, and other revolutionary 
agents proceeded to the other coast cities to incite strikes and 
revolts. The ground had been so well prepared that their 
efforts were everywhere speedily successful. In the few cities 
where the people were not already ripe for revolution, the 
supineness of the authorities made the revolutionaries' task a 
light one. Leaders of the Kiel mutineers met the Berlin agi- 
tators in different cities and cooperated with them. 

The procedure was everywhere the same. Workmen's and 
soldiers' councils were formed, policemen and loyal troops 



were disarmed and the city government was taken over by 
the Soviets. By Thursday evening soviet governments had 
been established in Hamburg, Cuxhaven, Wilhelmshaven, 
Bremen, Hanover, Rostock, Oldenburg and other places. 
The Soviets in virtually all these places were controlled by 
Independent Socialists — even then only a slight remove 
from Bolsheviki — and their spirit was hostile not alone to 
the existing government, but equally to the Majority So- 
cialists. At Hamburg, for instance, the Workmen's and Sol- 
diers' Council, which had forcibly taken over the Majority 
Socialist organ Hamburger Echo and rechristened it Die 
rote Fahne, published a proclamation forbidding the press 
to take any notice whatever of proclamations issued by the 
Majority Socialists or the leaders of trade-unions. The proc- 
lamation declared that "these elements will be permitted 
to cooperate in the government, but they will not be per- 
mitted to present any demands." Any attempt to interfere 
with the soviet was declared to be counter-revolutionary, and 
it was threatened that such attempts would "be met with the 
severest repressive measures. "^ 

The revolution at Hamburg was marked by much shooting 
and general looting. A semblance of order was restored on 
November 8th, but it was order only by comparison with the 
preceding day, and life and property were for many days 
unsafe in the presence of the vicious elements in control of 
the city. Prisoners were promiscuously released. Russian 
prisoners of war, proudly bearing red ribbons and flags, 
marched with their "brothers" in the demonstrations. A de- 
tachment of marines went to Harburg, near by, and lib- 
erated all the prisoners confined in the jail there. 

The cowardice, supineness and lack of decision of the au- 
thorities generally have already been referred to. A strik- 
ing and characteristic illustration is furnished by the story 
of the revolution at Swinemiinde, on the Baltic Sea. Two 
warships, the Dresden and Augsburg, were in the harbor 
when news came of the Kiel mutiny. The admiral was Count 
Schwerin and one of his officers was Prince Adalbert, the 
sailor-son of the Kaiser. The crews of the ships were loyal, 
and the Prince was especially popular with them. The gar- 



rison at Swinemiinde was composed of fifteen hundred coast 
artillerists and some three hundred marines. The artillerists 
were all men of the better class, technically educated and 
thoroughly loyal. At a word from their commanding-officer 
they would have blown any mutinous ship out of the water 
with their heavy coast guns. And yet Admiral Count Schwer- 
in and Prince Adalbert donned civilian clothing and took 
refuge with civilian friends ashore. 

Thirty-six submarines arrived at five o'clock in the after- 
noon, but left two hours later because there was no food to 
be had at Swinemiinde. The coast artillerists begged to be 
allowed to wipe out the mutineers. The mayor of Swine- 
miinde protested. Shells from the sea, he said, might fall 
into the city and damage it. And so, under the guns of loyal 
men, the sailors looted the ships completely during the even- 
ing and night. 

A committee of three marines called on Major Grunewald, 
commander of the fortress, and insolently ordered him to 
direct the garrison to appoint a soldiers' council. The artiller- 
ists were dumfounded when the major complied. The council 
appointed consisted of three marines, one artillerist and one 
infantryman, of whom there were about a hundred in the 
garrison. One of the members was an officer. Major Grune- 
wald having been ordered to direct the appointment of one. 
When the council had been formed the troops were drawn 
up to listen to a speech by a sergeant of marines. The major, 
his head bared, listened obediently. 

" We are the masters here now," said the sergeant. " It is 
ours to command, yours to obey. The salute is abolished. 
When we meet a decent officer we may possibly say 'good 
day, major,' to him, but when we meet some little runt 
{Schnosel) of a lieutenant we shan't recognize him. The 
officers may now go to their quarters. We don't need them. 
If we should need them later we shall tell them."^ 

The government at Berlin and the Majority Socialists 

^The flight of Prince Heinrich and later of the Kaiser made a painful 
impression in Germany, especially among Germans of the better class, and 
did much to alienate sympathy from them. It had been thought that, what- 
ever other faults the Hohenzollems might possess, they were at least not 
cowards. The flight of Prince Adalbert is even today not generally known. 



endeavored, even after the events already recorded, to stem 
the tide, or at least to lead the movement into more orderly 
channels, Stolten and Quarck, Socialist Reichstag deputies, 
and Blunck, Progressive deputy, and Stubbe and Schumann, 
Socialists, representing the executive committee of the cen- 
tral labor federation, went to Hamburg. But Haase, Lede- 
bour and the other agitators had done their work too well. 
Thursday morning brought the reports of the successes of 
the uprisings to the mutineers at Kiel, who were on the point 
of returning to their ships. A Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Council was formed for the whole province of Schleswig- 
Holstein. The revolt had already become revolution. The 
revolutionaries seized the railway running from Hamburg 
to Berlin, and also took charge of telephonic and telegraphic 
communication. Their emissaries started for Berlin. 

It has been set forth in a previous chapter that the prom- 
ise of President Wilson to give the Germans a just peace on 
the basis of his fourteen points and the supplementary points, 
and his declaration that the war was against a system and 
not against the German people themselves had played a 
very considerable part in making the revolution possible. 
This appears clearly in the report of the events at Bremen. 
On November 7th a procession, estimated at thirty thou- 
sand persons, passed through the city and halted at the 
market place. A number of speeches were made. One of the 
chief speakers, a soldier, reminded his hearers that Wilson 
had said that a peace of justice was possible for the Ger- 
mans only if they would take the government into their own 
hands. This had now been done, and nobody could reproach 
the revolutionaries with being unpatriotic, since their acts 
had made a just peace possible. 

A similar address was made at a meeting of the revolu- 
tionaries in Hanover, where the speaker told his hearers that 
the salvation of Germany depended upon their loyal sup- 
port of the revolution, which had placed all power in the 
hands of the people and fulfilled the conditions precedent 
entitling them to such a peace as the President had promised 

At the request of the government Noske assumed the post 



of Governor of Kiel. Order was restored. The relations be- 
tween the mutineers and their former officers were strikingly- 
good. The spirit of the Majority Socialists prevailed. Not 
until the Berlin revolution had put the seal upon their work 
did the mutineers of Kiel realize that it was they who had 
started the revolution. 


The Revolution Reaches Berhn. 

THE first news of the Kiel revolt reached Berlin on 
November 5th, when the morning papers published 
a half-column article giving a fairly accurate story 
of the happenings of Sunday, November 3d. The report 
ended : 

"By eight o'clock the street" ( Karlstrasse, where the firing 
occurred) "was clear. Only a few pools of blood and numer- 
ous shattered windows in the nearby buildings gave evidence 
that there had been sad happenings here. The late evening 
and the night were quiet. Excited groups stood about the 
street corners until midnight, but they remained passive. 
Reinforced patrols passed through the city, which other- 
wise appeared as usual. All public places are open and the 
performances in the theaters were not interrupted." 

The papers of the following day announced that "official 
reports concerning the further course of events in Kiel and 
other cities in North Germany had not been made public 
here up to noon. We are thus for the moment unable to give 
a report concerning them." 

This was but half the truth. The capital was already filled 
with reports, and the government was by this time fully in- 
formed of what was going on. Rumors and travelers' tales 
passed from mouth to mouth, but even yet the movement 
was not considered directly revolutionary, nor, indeed, was 
it revolutionary, although it became so within the next 
twenty-four hours. The executive committee of the German 
Federation of Labor published a declaration regarding "the 
recent spreading of anonymous handbills summoning la- 
borers to strikes and disorders for political ends." It was 
also reported by the press that Kurt Eisner, who had been 



released from prison by the October amnesty, had made a 
violent revolutionary speech at a meeting of the Independent 
Socialists in Munich. A further significant newspaper item 
complained of the distribution in Germany of vast quanti- 
ties of revolutionary literature printed in Sweden and Den- 
mark and smuggled across the Danish border. 

Joffe, convicted of abusing his privileges as a diplomat 
and of lying, had been escorted to a special train, together 
with his staff, and headed for Russia. With him went the 
Berlin representatives of the Rosta Telegraph Agency. But 
it was too late. Not only had the mischief already been done, 
but the loyalist Germans had also been disgusted with the 
government's timorous failure to grasp this nettle earlier 
and the Independent Socialists and their Spartacan soul- 
brothers were still further enraged, if possible, by the ex- 
pulsion and the manner in which it was carried out. 

It is doubtful whether the government even yet realized 
that it had an embryo revolution to deal with. A more homo- 
geneous government, composed of men with executive as 
well as legislative experience, would have realized it, but 
homogeneity and executive experience were sadly lacking 
in this cabinet. It is significant that the experienced men at 
the head of the political police had already begun prepara- 
tions to crush any uprising and had burned certain archives 
which they did not desire to have fall into the hands of revo- 
lutionary elements. The government was also embarrassed 
by the uncertain attitude of the Majority Socialists. Osten- 
sibly these did not desire the overthrow of the monarchy, 
but merely of the Kaiser; Scheidemann had declared in so 
many words that his party, despite the fact that it had al- 
ways striven for an eventual republic, was willing to wait 
for such a development and was for the present not opposed 
to the maintaining of a constitutional monarchy. As late as 
November 8th Scheidemann told von Payer that the So- 
cialists did not insist on the abolition of the monarchy. 

There were even Socialists who did not desire the Kaiser's 
abdication. Herr Marum, a Socialist member of the Baden 
Diet, in a speech at the end of October, had warned his 
hearers that any attempt to depose the Kaiser would bring 



chaos and imperil the state. He declared that the overwhelm- 
ing majority of Germans were still monarchists, arid al- 
though the Socialists were advocates of a republic, that 
question was now subordinate. The Kaiser, said Marum, 
had, in common with all Germans, learned much, and it 
would be a great risk to try to force a republic upon an un- 
willing majority. Dr. Dietz, a Socialist city councillor, sec- 
onded Marum, and expressed indignation at any efforts to 
make a scapegoat of the Kaiser. 

The Wednesday evening papers published a note from 
Lansing, wherein it was stated that the allied nations ac- 
cepted Wilson's fourteen points of January 8, 191 8, and the 
supplementary points enunciated in the Mount Vernon 
speech, except that relating to the freedom of the seas. The 
German delegation "for the conclusion of an armistice and 
to begin peace negotiations" left Berlin for the west. It 
was composed of General von Giindell, General von Winter- 
feldt, Admiral Meurer and Admiral von Hintze. 

Thursday, November 7th, brought more reassuring news 
from Kiel. The official Wolff Bureau reported : 

"The military protection of the Baltic by the marine is 
completely reestablished. All departing warships carry the 
war-flag. The movement among the sailors and workmen has 
taken a quieter course. The soldiers of the garrison are en- 
deavoring to take measures against violations of order. A 
gradual general surrender of weapons is proceeding. Private 
houses and business places, as well as lazarets and hospitals, 
are unmolested. Nearly all banks are doing business. The 
provisioning in the barracks and on the ships is being carried 
out in the usual manner. The furnishing of provisions to 
the civilian population has not been interfered with. The 
strike at the factories continues. The people are quiet." 

Reports from other coast cities were less favorable. Wolff 
reported : 

" In Hamburg there is a strike in the factories. Breaches 
of discipline and violent excesses have occurred. The same 
is reported from Liibeck. Except for excesses in certain 
works, private property has not been damaged nor touched. 
The population is in no danger." 



Chancellor Prince Max issued a proclamation, declaring 
that (jermany's enemies had accepted Wilson's program, 
except as to the freedom of the seas. "This," he said, " forms 
the necessary preliminary condition for peace negotiations 
and at the same time for armistice negotiations." He de- 
clared that a delegation had already been sent to the west 
front, but "the successful conduct of negotiations is grave- 
ly jeopardized by disturbances and undisciplined conduct." 
The Chancellor recalled the privations endured by the people 
for more than four years and appealed to them to hold out a 
little longer and maintain order. 

The situation was, however, already lost. If Scheidemann, 
Ebert and their fellow members in the central committee of 
the Majority Socialist organization had had their followers 
in hand the revolution could probably still have been pre- 
vented, or at least transformed into an orderly dethroning 
of the Kaiser and institution of parliamentary reforms. But 
they did not have them in hand, and the result was that 
VorzvdrtSj the party's central organ, published in its morn- 
ing issue a further demand for the Kaiser's abdication. Vor- 
wdrts declared that his sufferings could not be compared to 
those of most German fathers and that the sacrifice he was 
called upon to make was comparatively small. The appear- 
ance of this article was followed a few hours later by an ul- 
timatum to the government, demanding that the Kaiser ab- 
dicate within twenty-four hours and declaring that if he 
failed to do so, the Socialists would withdraw from the gov- 
ernment. It is probable that Scheidemann, Ebert and some 
of the other leaders of the party presented the ultimatum 
with reluctance, realizing what it would involve, but they 
were helpless in the face of the sentiment of the mass of 
their party and of the attitude of the Independent Socialists. 

The attitude of the Kaiser toward abdication was already 
known to them. Following Scheidemann's demand a week 
earlier. Dr. Drews, the Minister of the Interior, had sub- 
mitted the demand to the Kaiser. Scheidemann had declared 
that, if the Kaiser did not abdicate, the Independent Social- 
ists would demand the introduction of a republic, in which 
case the Majority' Socialists would be compelled to make 



common cause with them. The Kaiser, doubtless still con- 
vinced of the loyalty of the troops, was not moved by Drews's 
report. He declared that his abdication would mean com- 
plete anarchy and the delivering of Germany into the hands 
of the Bolsheviki. He could not accept the responsibility 
for such a step. That Scheidemann and Ebert, although they 
were cognizant of the Kaiser's attitude, consented to Thurs- 
day's ultimatum gives color to a report that informal ne- 
gotiations had in the meantime been carried on between 
them and certain Independent leaders.-^ 

Revolution was now fairly on the march. The Independ- 
ent Socialists and Liebknecht's Spartacans were already en- 
deavoring to form a Workmen's and Soldiers' Council for 
Greater Berlin. General von Linsingen, commander in the 
Marches, made a last desperate attempt to forbid the revo- 
lution by issuing the following decree : 

" In certain quarters there exists the purpose to form 
Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils after the Russian pat- 
tern, in disregard of the provisions of the laws. 

"Institutions of this kind conflict with the existing state 
order and endanger the public safety. 

" Under paragraph 9b of the law regarding a state of 
siege I forbid any formation of such associations and the 
participation therein." 

This was the last order issued by the military authorities 
in Berlin. A counterpiece was the last anti-revolutionary 
order issued by the old police authorities, which forbade 
eight mass meetings which the Independent Socialists pro- 
posed to hold Thursday evening, with "The Anniversary 
of the Russian Revolution" as their theme. The police or- 
der, however, was enforced. 

The first revolutionary emissaries reached Berlin Thurs- 
day evening, in the form of various detachments of armed 
marines from Hamburg. The military authorities, more 
resolute than those in the provincial cities, sent troops to the 
railway station to receive them. The marines suffered them- 

'These negotiations had nothing to do with a revolution as such, nor with 
the formation of Soviets. It must be emphasized that the Majority Socialists 
still had no part in these plans and were themselves surprised by the events 
of Friday evening and Saturday. 



selves to be disarmed and went without resistance to bar- 
racks, with the exception of one detachment of about two 
hundred and fifty men, of whom all but some seventy es- 
caped into the streets with their weapons. These men formed 
the nucleus of the revolution in Berlin. 

Berlin was still without any but the most meager news 
of the revolution Friday. The papers complained of an even 
more narrow-minded and arbitrary censorship by the new 
government than that under the old regime. The press was 
on the whole restricted to printing official reports, although 
some of them added a few paragraphs of explanatory com- 
ment. An inspired report that the excesses in the northwest 
bore no political character was contradicted by the Vorwdrts, 
which declared that they had a "liberty seeking socialistic 
character everywhere." Unimportant disturbances took place 
during the day in Rosenthalerstrasse, in the old city, and a 
few arrests were made, but the day passed quietly on the 

Crowds stood in front of the bulletin boards of the various 
newspapers all day, waiting for news from Grand Head- 
quarters. Would the Kaiser abdicate? The term of the So- 
cialist ultimatum expired. Scheidemann gave notice that the 
party would wait another twenty-four hours, and a few 
hours later the term was extended until after the decision 
regarding the armistice, the terms of which were expected 
to reach Berlin on Saturday. 

The government, weak, irresolute, inexperienced, faced 
a situation which would have confounded stronger men. A 
day earlier they had consented to summon from Kiel and 
Hamburg about a thousand marines who were supposed to 
be devoted to Noske. This attempt to cast out the Devil with 
Beelzebub indicates in some degree the desperateness of 
the situation. More troops were brought to the capital on 
Friday. They were the Naumburg Jdger (sharpshooters) 
and the Liibben Jdger, excellent troops, who had been in the 
Finland contingent, had distinguished themselves by patri- 
otic daring and exemplary discipline, and who were con- 
sidered absolutely reliable. These men, about four thousand 
in all, were in part quartered in different large restaurants 



and in part in the barracks of the Alexander Regiment. It 
was in these barracks that (ironic coincidence !) Kaiser Wil- 
helm made his well-known speech on March 28, 1901, in 
which he asserted his confidence that, if the Berliners should 
again become "insolent and disobedient" {frech und unbot- 
indssig) as in 1848, his troops would know how to protect 
their imperial master. In all there were perhaps twenty 
thousand soldiers in Berlin at this time, including several 
regiments of the Prussian Guard. 

Throughout Thursday and Friday the Independent So- 
cialists were feverishly active. Liebknecht, "Red Rosa" Lux- 
emburg and other Spartacans joined the Independent agi- 
tators in revolutionary propaganda among the soldiers and 
in making preparations for the final coup. The police, loyal 
and alert to the last, arrested Daumig on a charge of high 
treason and closed the central bureau of the Independent 
Socialist party. Again too late! There were plenty left to 
carry on the work. The Majority Socialists, or at least their 
leaders, knew in a general way of the activities of these rev- 
olutionary forces, but they were still ignorant of the details. 

Prince Max telegraphed the Kaiser, offering to resign. 
The Kaiser asked "him to remain in office for the time being 
at least. 

Friday night the Berlin Workmen's and Soldiers' Council 
was organized at a meeting summoned by Barth, Haase 
and other Independents. In addition to the Independents 
and Spartacans at the meeting, there were a number of more 
or less well-known men who had not theretofore been identi- 
fied with these parties. One of them, a man who was to play 
a prominent role in the events of Saturday, the day of the 
real revolution, was Lieutenant Colin Ross, a prominent 
journalist and war correspondent. Another was Captain von 
Beerfelde. It was von Beerfelde who, at that time a member 
of the General Staff, betrayed a friend's confidence by mak- 
ing public the Lichnowsky memorandum. This resulted, 
quite naturally, in his arrest and imprisonment. The govern- 
ment could not have acted otherwise, but there is no doubt 
that von Beerfelde was subjected to unnecessary indignities 
during his arrest, and these, in connection with the arrest 



itself, transformed the somewhat unbalanced and egotistic 
man into a bitter enemy of all existing institutions. The Gen- 
eral Staff was further represented at Friday night's meet- 
ing by First Lieutenant Tibertius, a man of no particular 
prominence or importance, who came to the meeting in 
company with the Independent leaders. Barth had bought 
some sixteen hundred revolvers with money given him by 
Joffe, and these were distributed at the meeting and out- 
side, to soldiers and civilians alike. Barth presided at the 
meeting, which was held in the Reichstag chamber. 

The Majority Socialists now saw the hoplessness of keep- 
ing apart from the movement. They declared their solidari- 
ty with the Independents, and, in the few hours that re- 
mained, set about trying to save whatever could be saved 
out of the wreck which was plainly coming. 

Friday night, despite these occurrences, passed quietly. 
The streets were unusually crowded until after midnight, 
but it was mainly a curious crowd, awaiting further news, 
particularly of the Kaiser's expected abdication. The royal 
palace was strongly cordoned by steel-helmeted troops, a 
searchlight played from the tower of the city hall and the 
streets of the old city were well patroll'ed by troops and 
policemen. The police chiefs of various municipalities of 
Greater Berlin conferred with General von Linsingen on 
v7&ys and means of meeting eventual disturbances. They 
decided that further military forces were not needed. 

Saturday, revolution day, dawned with the great mass 
of the inhabitants still ignorant of the events of the pre- 
ceding days. The coming events nevertheless cast their 
shadows before. The morning papers reported that the 
Kaiser's son-in-law, Duke Ernest August of Brunswick, 
had abdicated after an eleventh-hour attempt to stem the tide 
by a decree for franchise reform. It was also evident that 
the Kaiser must go, for the Clericals, National Liberals and 
Progressives in the government permitted it to be reported 
that, while they were still supporters of a monarchical form 
of government, they had, in view of the extraordinary cir- 
cumstances, decided that personal considerations must be 



The Wolff Bureau was forced to admit that the revolt 
that started at Kiel had extended to many other places in 
the Empire. The report said : 

"A certain carefully planned procedure is now disclosing- 
itself. Everywhere the same picture : from the chief centers, 
Kiel and Hamburg, trains carrying armed marines and 
agitators are being sent out into the country. These men en- 
deavor to seize the centers of communication and abolish 
the military commands. They then attach to themselves 
criminal elements, among whom there are great numbers of 
deserters, and endeavor to corrupt the troops by represent- 
ing to them that it is not a question of a revolutionary move- 
ment, but one to secure military reforms. The attempt has 
been successful with many troops, but it has met energetic 
resistance from others. The whole movement plainly pro- 
ceeds from Russia, and it is proved that the former mem- 
bers of the Berlin representation of the Soviet republic have 
cooperated in it. As the Russian Government has itself ad- 
mitted, it hopes by this means to cause Bolshevist ideas to 
spring into new life here in Germany and thereafter in all 

This was the first open admission that the Kiel revolt had 
developed into a revolution. The newspapers were permitted 
also to publish reports from various water-front cities, show- 
ing that the Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils were in pow- 
er in Bremen, Hamburg, Liibeck, Kiel and other places, and 
that these councils "are in charge of the government in 
nearly all garrisons in the province of Holstein." They were 
also permitted to report the proclamation of the republic in 
Bavaria, and the complete text of Kurt Eisner's bombastic 
address to the people. It was reported from Frankfort-on- 
Main that General von Studnitz, commander in that city,, 
had ordered all garrisons there to hold meetings on Friday 
evening for the formation of soldiers' councils. This action 
followed representations from Frankfort's Majority Social- 
ists, acting in concert with the Progressives. 

Nowhere, however, was any mention made of Friday 
night's events in Berlin itself. The papers published articles 
couched in general terms, warning all citizens to preserve 



order, and reminding them that the city's provisioning would 
be gravely disturbed by disorders. In fact, the daily supply 
of milk had already dropped ninety thousand liters as a re- 
sult of the "sudden interruption of railway traffic." 

The Majority Socialists had summoned a meeting for the 
early morning of Saturday in the Reichstag building. They 
had been in session only a short time when the news came 
that a large parade of workingmen was proceeding down 
the Chausseestrasse. This was about 9:00 a.m. The parade 
was largely made up of employees from the Schwartzkopff 
works, which had been for two years a hotbed of discontent, 
of radical socialism and Bolshevism. The marchers entered 
the barracks of the Fusilier Guards — known in Berlin and 
North Germany generally as the Maikdfer — and demanded 
that the soldiers surrender their weapons. A captain, the 
first officer encountered, shot down four of the rioters before 
he was himself killed. He was the only officer in Berlin rash, 
brave and loyal enough to give his life deliberately for his 
monarch and for the old system. The soldiers then meekly 
surrendered their rifles and the parade moved on, reinforced 
in every street with deserters, criminals, hooligans and other 
undesirable elements such as are to be found in all large 

The Majority Socialists realized that their only hope was 
to try to lead the movement and direct it into comparatively 
orderly channels. They appointed Scheidemann, Ebert and 
David to confer with the Independent Socialist delegates 
Dittmann, Vogtherr and Ledebour, regarding the organi- 
zation of a new government. 

. Further reports came of street demonstrations. Blood- 
shed appeared imminent. Colin Ross went to the palace of 
the Chancellor and found Prince Max. The Prince was ner- 
vous and all but entirely unstrung. Ross told him the Ma- 
jority Socialists had decided that there must be no firing on 
the people, and asked him to issue an order to that effect. 
Max said he would do so. Ross thereupon went to Minister 
of War Scheuch and told him that the Chancellor had or- 
dered that the troops should not fire on the citizens. The 



order was communicated to the various garrisons and also 
to police headquarters. 

What would have occurred if this order had not been is- 
sued is a matter of conjecture. Assuredly there would have 
been bloodshed. Quite apart from the question of the relia- 
bility or unreliability of the troops there were the Berlin 
police to deal with. Their ranks had been thinned by calls 
to the front, but those still on duty were no inconsiderable 
factor. The force was made up entirely of veteran non-com- 
missioned officers, who must have served twelve years in the 
army. They were, moreover, like all great city police forces, 
picked men, above the average physically, and far above 
the average in bravery, resoluteness and loyalty. Only a 
negligible number of them had been perverted by red doc- 
trines, and they were well armed and fully prepared for the 
day's events. High police officials assured the author that 
they could have put down the revolution in its very begin- 
nings if the order had not come forbidding them to offer 

Viewed in the light of subsequent events, this statement 
must be rejected. The police could and would have put up a 
brave battle, but there were too few of them for one thing, 
and for another, the revolution had too great momentum 
to be stopped by any force available to the authorities. One 
military defection had already occurred when Saturday 
dawned. A corporal of the Naumburg Jdger, who were 
quartered in the Alexander barracks, had been arrested for 
making an incendiary speech to some comrades, and when 
the troops were alarmed at 3 : oo a.m. and ordered to be ready 
to go into action they refused to obey. Major Ott, command- 
er of the battalion directly affected, came and told the men 
that the Kaiser had already abdicated. They sent a delega- 
tion to the Vorwdrts, where they learned that the major's 
statement was not true. The delegation thereupon announced 
that the battalion would place itself on the side of the work- 
ingmen. The Kaiser Alexander Guards followed the Jdger's 

There were some good troops in Berlin — such as the 
Jdger already mentioned — ^but the great majority of the men 



were by no means of the highest standard. The best troops 
were naturally at the front, and those at home were in large 
part made up of men who had been away from the firing- 
line for some weeks or even longer, and who had been sub- 
jected to a violent campaign of what the Socialists call 
Aufkldrung, literally, clearing up, or enlightenment. The 
word is generally used as part of a phrase, Aufkldrung ini 
sozial-demokratischen Sinne, that is, "enlightenment in the 
social-democratic sense." The great majority of any army 
is made up of men who work with their hands. A great part 
of the others consists of small shopkeepers, clerks and others 
whose associations in civilian life are mainly with the work- 
ingmen. An appeal not to shoot one's "proletarian brother" 
is, in the nature of things, an appeal which strikes home to 
these people. The Kaiser was still nominally occupying the 
throne, but it was certain that he would abdicate. This was 
a further element of weakness for the government, since 
such of the troops as were still kaisertreu (loyal to the Kai- 
ser) saw themselves about to be deprived of their monarch, 
who, however they may have regarded him personally, 
nevertheless represented for them the majesty and unity of 
the German State. Hence, even before the order came not to 
fire on the people, the troops had begun to place themselves 
on the side of the revolutionaries and were everywhere per- 
mitting themselves to be disarmed. Otto Wels, a Majority 
Socialist member of the Reichstag, and others of his col- 
leagues made the round of the barracks, appealing to the 
soldiers not to shed their brothers' blood. And then came the 
no-resistance order. 

The streets filled with marching crowds, civilians and 
soldiers, arm in arm, cheering and singing. Hawkers ap- 
peared everywhere with small red flags, red rosettes, red 
ribbons, red flowers. The red flag of revolution began break- 
ing out on various buildings. Soldiers tore ofl" their regimen- 
tal insignia and removed the cockades from their caps. 
Factories were deserted. 

The revolution had come ! 


The Kaiser Abdicates. 

EVENTS moved with lightning rapidity. All that has 
been related in the foregoing chapter concerning the 
developments of November 9th had happened before 
liiOO A.M. The Majority Socialists, still in session in the 
Reichstag and now in complete fellowship with the Inde- 
pendents and members of the Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Council, decided that the republic must be proclaimed. Some 
enterprising individuals prepared an article reporting the 
Kaiser's abdication. Ross took it to the Vorwdrts, which 
l^ublished it in an extra edition, nearly two hours before the 
abdication actually took place. The paper was fairly torn 
from the hands of the venders in the streets, and processions 
of red-ribboned marchers became more frequent. 

The cabinet had meanwhile been in almost constant tele- 
phonic communication with the Kaiser. It had been re- 
peatedly represented to him that only his abdication could 
prevent rioting and bloodshed. But the decision which he 
was called upon to make was not an easy one, and it cannot 
be wondered that he hesitated. He was particularly insistent 
that, while he could consider abdicating as German Emper- 
or, he could not and would not abdicate as King of Prussia. 
The decision had still not been reached at noon. The cabinet, 
fearing to delay longer, had the following report sent out 
by the Wolff Bureau : 

"The Kaiser and King has decided to surrender the 
throne {dem Throne zu entsagen) . The Imperial Chancellor 
will remain in office until the questions connected with the 
abdication of the Kaiser, the abandoning by the Crown 
Prince of the German Empire and Prussia of his rights to 
the throne, and the installation of a regency shall have been 



adjusted. It is his intention to propose to the regent the ap- 
pointment of Deputy Ebert as Imperial Chancellor and to 
submit to him a draft of a measure regarding the immedi- 
ate calling of general elections for a constituent German na- 
tional assembly, which shall finally determine the future 
form of government of the German people, and also of those 
peoples that may desire to be included within the borders 
of the Empire. 

(signed) "The Imperial Chancellor, 

"Max, Prince of Baden." 

It will be observed that this, so far from being the procla- 
mation of a republic, clearly contemplated the continued 
existence of the monarchy. The question of the future form 
of government was, it is true, to be left to the national as- 
sembly, but if the events of Saturday afternoon and Sunday 
had not occurred it is probable that this assembly would 
have decided upon a constitutional monarchy. Speculations 
along this line are of merely academic interest, but for a 
better understanding of the extent of the reversal of these 
two days it may be pointed out that a clear majority of the 
German people was undoubtedly monarchic in principle. 
The only body of republican opinion was represented by 
the Social-Democrats of both wings, who composed less 
than forty per cent of the total population, and even among 
them, as we have seen, there were men who felt that the 
time had not yet come for a republic. 

Prince Max's proclamation anticipated by a full hour the 
Kaiser's actual abdication. It was furthermore erroneous in 
its assertion that "the King" had abdicated. The Kaiser's 
first abdication did not include the royal throne of Prussia. 
Only when all hope was definitely lost did he surrender 

A detachment of Jdger occupied the Reichstag, and a 
great crowd gathered outside. Scheidemann, in an address 
from the Reichstag steps, told the crowd that the dynasty 
had been overthrown, and that Ebert had been appointed 
to form a new government on republican lines and with 



the participation of all political parties.^ Scheidemann, like 
Max, also anticipated events, for the republic had not yet 
been authoritatively proclaimed, nor had Ebert been ap- 
pointed Chancellor. 

Two hours later, shortly after 2 :oo p.m., Ebert, Scheide- 
mann, Braun and two members of the Workmen's and Sol- 
diers' Council, Prolat and Hiller, went to the palace of the 
Chancellor in an automobile carrying a red flag and guard- 
ed by armed soldiers. They informed Prince Max that they 
considered it absolutely necessary to form a socialistic gov- 
ernment,^ since this alone could save Germany. The Prince 
thereupon requested Ebert to accept the chancellorship. Eb- 
ert complied and thus became for one day "Imperial Chan- 
cellor," the possessor of an office which did not exist in an 
empire which no longer existed. 

Ebert's first act was to proclaim the republic officially. He 
did this in an address to a crowd which filled Wilhelm- 
strasse and Wilhelmplatz in front of the Chancellor's official 
residence. Hysteric cheering followed the announcement 
that the German Empire had become history. 

The greatest revolution of all times was an accomplished 
fact before three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, November 
9th. The old system, with its tens of thousands of trained and 
specialized officials ; with armies that had successfully fought 
for years against the combined resources of the rest of the 
world; with citizens trained from their very infancy to rev- 
erence the Kaiser and to obey those in authority; with the 
moral support of the monarchic Germans, who far outnum- 
bered the republican — this system fell as a rotten tree falls 
before a gale. The simile lacks in perfection because the tree 
falls with a crash, whereas the old German governmental 
system made less noise in its collapse than did the Kingdom 
of Portugal some years earlier. It simply disappeared. Fuit 

The Majority Socialists honestly intended to form a people's government 
representing all parties. That only Socialists were eventually admitted was 
due to the flat refusal of the Independents to let the despised bourgeoisie have 
any voice whatever in the governmental affairs. 

'"Socialistic" in a non-partisan sense ; a republic based on the Socialist 
party's tenets, but not necessarily conducted exclusively by them. The 
exclusion of the bourgeoisie was a later idea. 



Up to this time the Majority Socialists, by stealing the 
thunder of the Independents and acting with a good deal 
of resolution, had kept themselves in the center of the stage. 
The real makers of the revolution, the Independents and 
Spartacans, had been confined to off-stage work. It was 
Liebknecht, with his instinct for the theatrical and dramatic, 
who now came to the front. A vast crowd had gathered 
around the royal palace. It was made up in part of the "class- 
conscious proletariat," but in large part also of the merely 
curious. Liebknecht, accompanied by Adolf Hoffmann^ and 
another left wing Socialist, entered the palace and proceeded 
to a balcony in the second story, where, lacking a red flag, 
he hung a red bed-blanket over the rail of the balcony and 
then delivered an impassioned harangue to the crowd below. 
The real revolution, he declared, had only begun, and at- 
tempts at counter-revolution could be met only by the vigi- 
lance of an armed proletariat. The working-classes must arm 
themselves, the bourgeoisie must be disarmed. Hoffmann, 
who spoke briefly, said that he was enjoying the happiest 
and proudest moment of his life. While he was still speak- 
ing a red flag was hoisted over the palace, to the cheers of the 
people gathered around the building. 

Some of the palace guard had given up their rifles and left 
their posts. Others had joined the revolutionaries. The loot- 
ing of the palace began. It did not assume great proportions 
on this first day, but many valuable articles had disappeared 

^Hoffman was for several years a member of the Prussian Diet and 
prominent in the councils of the Social-Democratic party. Although a pro- 
fessed atheist and unable to write a sentence of his mother-tongue without 
an error in spelling or grammar, he became under the first revolutionary 
government Prussian Minister of Education (Kultusminister) , with charge 
over the church and schools. Hoffman left the old party at the time of the 
split in 1915, and has since been an abusive and virulent enemy of his former 
colleagues. He distinguished himself in the Diet chiefly by disregard of 
the ordinary amenities of civilized intercourse and parliamentary forms. 
Speaking from the speaker's rostrum in the Diet, with his back to the pre- 
siding-officer — after the usual European custom — he would utter some in- 
sult to the royal house, the authorities in general, one of the bourgeois par- 
ties of the house or one of the members. He appeared to know instinctively 
whenever his remarks were inadmissible, for he would pause, hunch up his 
shoulders like one expecting to be struck from behind, and wait for the pre- 
siding-officer to ring his bell and call him to order. A few minutes later the 
same scene would be reenacted. 



when night came. Government property of all kinds was 
sold openly in the streets by soldiers and civilians. Rifles 
could be had for a few marks, and even army automobiles 
were sold for from three to five hundred marks. Processions 
kept moving about the city, made up in part of soldiers and 
in part of armed civilians. Persons without red badges were 
often molested or mishandled. Cockades in the imperial or 
some state's colors were torn from soldiers' caps, their shoul- 
der insignia were ripped off and their belts taken away by 
the embryo and self-constituted "red guard." The patriotic 
cockades inflamed their revolutionary hearts; the belts, being 
of good leather — a rare article — could be used for repair- 
ing the shoes of the faithful. Officers were hunted down, 
their shoulder-straps torn off and their swords and revolvers 
taken from them. Many officers were roughly handled. Hun- 
dreds escaped a like fate by a quick change into civilian 
clothing. The mobile vulgus had forgotten that forty per 
cent of Germany's active officer corps had been killed in 
fighting for their country, and that a great part of those 
left were crippled by wounds. It saw in these men only the 
representatives of an iron discipline and of authority — and 
authority is hated by all truly class-conscious Genossen. It 
was this same feeling that led, on the following day, to the 
disarming of the police — a measure which so quickly 
avenged itself in an increase of crime from which even the 
proletariat suffered that their sabers and revolvers were re- 
stored to the police within a month. 

Thus far the revolution had been all but bloodless. The 
brave officer of the Maikdfer and the four revolutionaries 
who fell before him were the only victims. But about 6 : oo 
P.M., as an automobile ambulance turned into the palace 
courtyard, a single shot was heard. Observers thought they 
saw the smoke of the shot in the central entrance to the royal 
stables, which are situated across the street just south of the 
palace. While the source of the shot was being investigated 
a second shot was fired. Almost immediately machine guns 
began firing from the cellar windows and the first and sec- 
ond stories of the stables.^ The crowd filling the square 

'This story of the origin of Saturday evening's shooting comes from the 
Soldiers' Council, and is undoubtedly exaggerated. No other report of the 
incident is, however, available. 



melted away. Members of the Soldiers' Council returned 
the fire. The shooting continued until late into the night, 
when members of the Soldiers' Council entered the stables. 
They found nobody there. 

By whom or with what intention the first shots were 
fired is not known. The most radical of the revolutionaries, 
and especially the Liebknecht followers, saw in them the 
beginning of the dreaded "counter-revolution." The stables 
were at the time occupied by some of the marines who had 
been brought to Berlin two days earlier. These men, who 
were later to cause the new government so much trouble,* 
were in large part what is so aptly expressed by the slang 
term "roughnecks." Their leader was a degraded officer 
named Heinrich Dorrenbach.^ Viewed in the light of their 
subsequent conduct it is impossible that they could have 
been won for any counter-revolutionary movement.' The 
revolutionaries, however, who knew that they had been 
summoned by Prince Max's government, concluded that the 
shots had been fired by them. There were few casualties 
from the encounter. 

The Majority Socialists' three delegates conferred again 
with Dittmann, Vogtherr and Ledebour, the Independents' 
representatives. They were unable to come to an agreement, 
and the Independents withdrew to confer with their party's 
executive committee. This committee debated the question 
for some hours with the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council.* 
Liebknecht, still nominally an Independent, for the Sparta- 
cus Bund had not yet been formally organized as a separate 
party; Ledebour, Dittmann, and Barth, who was chairman 

*It was these men who surrounded the imperial chancellery on December 
24th, held the cabinet members there incommunicado by severing the tele- 
phone wires, and compelled the government to grant their wage demands 
and to permit them to retain the royal stables as barracks. They also helped 
loot the palace. The government had to disarm them during the second "Bol- 
shevik week" in Berlin early in March, when twenty-four of them were sum-- 
marily executed. 

'Dorrenbach was afterward indicted in Brunswick for bribery and looting. 

That the radical wing of the German Socialists conferred in a party mat- 
ter with this council, which was supposed to represent Socialists of both 
parties, is significant. As a matter of fact, the real power in the council was. 
from the beginning in the hands of the Independent and Spartacan members^ 
and their ascendancy grew steadily. 



of the council, took a leading part in the debate that ensued. 
It was finally decided to make the Independents' participa- 
tion in the government conditional upon the granting of cer- 
tain demands. First of all, the new government must be only 
a provisorium for the conclusion of the armistice, and its ex- 
istence was to be limited to three days. Before the expiration 
of that term the Soviet was to decide what course should then 
be taken. The republic must be a socialistic republic,^ and 
all legislative, executive and judicial power must rest in the 
hands of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils, who were 
to be elected by "the laboring population under the exclusion 
of all bourgeois elements."^ 

These demands were communicated to the Majority So- 
cialist delegates, who, after a conference with their party's 
executive committee, rejected them. They especially opposed 
the exclusion of all bourgeois statesmen from the govern- 
ment, declaring that this would make the provisioning of 
the people impossible. They demanded cooperation of the 
two parties until the convening of a constituent assembly, 
and rejected the three-day limitation upon the existence of 
the government to be formed. Further negotiations between 
the two sets of delegates were agreed on for Sunday morn- 

The German Socialists have always had a keen apprecia- 
tion of the influence of the press. No other country has such 
an extensive, well-edited and influential array of Socialist 
newspapers and periodicals as Germany, and in no other 
country are the Socialists so carefully disciplined into tak- 
ing their political views from their party organs. As the 
parent party, the Majority Socialists already had their press. 
The Independents had no organ of any importance in Ber- 
lin, and Liebknecht's Spartacans had none at all. This, for 
persons who, if not in abstract theory, nevertheless in actual 
practice refuse to admit that the bourgeoisie has any rights 
whatever, was a matter easily remedied. Liebknecht, at the 

'Here, as the demands show, "socialistic" in the most rigid and class-con- 
scious" partisan sense. 

*The italics are those of the Independents themselves, as used in publishing 
their demands in their party organ. 



head of a group of armed soldiers, went in the evening to 
the plant of the Conservative Lokal-Anzeiger , turned out 
the whole staff and took possession. The paper appeared 
Sunday morning as Die rote Fahne (The Red Flag). Inde- 
pendent Socialists and members of the Workmen's and Sol- 
diers' Council at the same time took violent possession of the 
venerable Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, which they 
published Sunday morning as Die Internationale. 

The Wolff Bureau had already been occupied by members 
of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council. It was compelled 
to send out any articles coming from that council, and its 
other news dispatches were subjected to a censorship quite 
as rigid and tendencieuse and even less intelligent than that 
prevailing under the old regime. The committee put in 
charge of the Wolff Bureau was nominally composed of an 
equal number of Majorit}'^ and Independent Socialists, but 
the latter, by dint of their rabid energy and resolution, were 
able for a long time to put their imprint on all news issuing 
from the bureau. 

Die rote Fahne of Sunday morning published on the 
first page a leading article which undoubtedly was written 
by Liebknecht himself. It began : 

"Proudly the red flag floats over the imperial capital. 
Berlin has tardily followed the glorious example of the Kiel 
sailors, the Hamburg shipyard laborers and the soldiers 
and workingmen of various other states." 

The "article glorified the revolution and declared that it 
must sweep away "the remains and ruins of feudalism." 
There must be not merely a republic, but a socialistic re- 
public, and its flag must not be "the black, red and gold 
flag of the bourgeois Republic of 1848, but the red flag of 
the international socialistic proletariat, the red flag of the 
Commune of 1871 and of the Russian revolutions of 1905 
and 191 2. * * * * The revolutionary, triumphant proletariat 
must erect a new order out of the ruins of the World War, 
* * * * The first tasks in this direction are speedy peace, 
genuine proletarian domination, reshaping of economic life 
from the pseudo-socialism of the war to the real socialism 
of peace." 



The article closed with an appeal to workingmen and 
soldiers to retain their weapons and go forward "under the 
victorious emblem of the red flag." 

On the third page of the same issue appeared another 
article, also probably from Liebknecht's pen. It was an ap- 
peal to the "workmen and soldiers in Berlin" to fortify the 
power already won by them, "The red flag floats over 
Berlin,"^ wrote Liebknecht again. But this was only a 
beginning. "The work is not finished with the abdication of a 
couple of Hohenzollerns. Still less is it accomplished by the 
entrance into the government of a couple more government 
Socialists. These have supported the bourgeoisie for four 
years and they cannot do otherwise now." 

"Mistrust is the first democratic virtue," declared Lieb- 
knecht. The government must be completely reorganized. 
He then set forth the demands that must be presented. They 
are of interest as the first formulation of the program of 
those who afterward became the supporters of Bolshevist 
ideals in Germany. Except for certain points designed only 
to meet then existing conditions this program is still in es- 
sentials that of the German Communists, as the Spartacans 
now term themselves. It follows : 

1. Disarming of the whole police force, of all officers and also 
of such soldiers as do not stand on the base of the new order; 
arming of the people ;2 all soldiers and proletarians who are 
armed to retain their weapons. 

2. Taking over of all military and civil offices and commands 
by representatives {V ertrauensrndnner) of the Workmen's and 
Soldiers' Council. 

3. Surrender of all weapons and stores of munitions, as well 
as of all other armaments, to the Workmen's and Soldiers' Coun- 

*No one can long study objectively the manifestations of partisan Social- 
Democracy without feeling that there is something pathological about the 
fetichistic worship of the red flag by the radical elements among the So- 

*Bewaffnung des Volkes; "people" used as a synonym for the proletarian 
section of it. The Bourgeoisie are not das Volk (the people) to the extreme 



4. Control by the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council of all means 
of traffic. 

5. Abolishment of courts-martial; corpse-like obedience {Ka- 
davergehorsam) to be replaced by voluntary discipline of the 
soldiers under control of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council. 

6. Abolishment of the Reichstag and of all parliaments,^ as 
well as of the existing national government; taking over of the 
government by the Berlin Workmen's and Soldiers' Council until 
the formation of a national workmen's and soldiers' council. 

7. Election throughout Germany of workmen's and soldiers' 
councils, in whose hands exclusively the lawgiving and adminis- 
trative power shall rest. 

8. Abolishment of dynasties^ and separate states ; our parole is : 
United Socialistic Republic of Germany. 

9. The immediate establishing of relations with all workmen's 
and soldiers' councils existing in Germany, and with the social- 
istic brother parties of foreign countries. 

10. The immediate recall to Berlin of the Russian Embassy. 

This proclamation closed by declaring that no real So- 
cialist must enter the government as long as a single "gov- 
ernment" Socialist (Majority) belonged to it. "There can 
be no cooperation vv^ith those who have betrayed us for four 
years," said the proclamation. 

This item followed : "Die rote FaJine sends its first and 
warmest greeting to the Federative Socialistic Soviet Repub- 

'Americans inclined to extend sympathy to Liebknecht (or his memory) 
are again reminded that he and his followers are violent opponents of de- 
mocracy. The same is true of the real leaders of the Independent Socialists. 

'Several of the German dynasties were still in existence on the morning of 
November loth. King Friedrich August of Saxony, Grand Duke Ernst Lud- 
wig of Hesse and Grand Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg were deposed 
on November loth, and Prince Heinrich XXVII of Reuss (younger line) 
abdicated on the same day. The King of Saxony accepted his deposition by 
a formal act of abdication two days later. Duke Karl Eduard of Saxe- 
Coburg-Gotha, and Grand Duke Friedrich Franz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin 
abdicated on November 13th. King Ludwig of Bavaria, whom Kurt Eisner 
had already declared deposed, issued a statement on November 13th liberat- 
ing all officials from their oath of allegiance, "since I am no longer in a posi- 
tion to direct the government." The Munich Soviet acknowledged this as an 
act of abdiction. Prince Friedrich of Waldeck-Pyrmont, refusing to abdicate, 
was deposed on the same day. Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden and Prince 
Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe did not leave their thrones until November 15th. 



lie (Russia) and begs that government to tell our Russian 
brethren that the Berlin laboring-class has celebrated the 
first anniversary of the Russian revolution by bringing 
about the German revolution." 

Die Internationale also published a leader glorifying the 
revolution and declaring that "the red flag floats over the 
capital." It called on its readers to be on their guard and 
closed with a lebe hoch!^ for the German Socialistic Re- 
public and the Internationale. 

All the Sunday morning papers published a proclama- 
tion and an appeal by the "Imperial Chancellor," Ebert. 
The proclamation was addressed to "Fellow Citizens,"^ and 
was a formal notice that Ebert had taken over his office 
from Prince Max and was about to form a new government. 
He requested the aid of all good citizens and warned es- 
pecially against any acts calculated to interfere with sup- 
plying food to the people. The appeal was a summons to all 
officials throughout the country to place themselves at the 
disposition of the new government.^ "I know it will be hard 
for many to work with the new men who have undertaken 
the conduct of the government," said the appeal, "but I ap- 
peal to their love for our people." 

Sunday was ushered in with the crack of rifle fire and the 
rattle of machine-guns. Nervous Genossen, incited by fa- 
natics or irresponsible agitators saw the specter of counter- 
revolution on every hand and circulated wild tales of officers 

^Literally, "may it live high !" The French vive and the English "hurrah 
for— !" 

'Mitburger. Subsequent proclamations were, with few exceptions, ad- 
dressed to Genossen. The government could not shake off its party fetters. 

*It is not possible to withhold admiration from the tens of thousands of 
officials throughout Germany who, hating and despising party Socialism, and 
themselves monarchic in principle by tradition and training, nevertheless 
stayed at their posts and did what they could to prevent utter chaos. The 
choice was especially hard for the men in higher positions, since most of 
these not only had to carry out orders of a revolutionary red government, 
but also had to submit to having their daily acts controlled and their orders 
altered and countersigned by a Genosse who was often an unskilled manual 
laborer. The best traditions of German officialdom were honorably upheld 
by these men, and it is to them, rather than to those at the head of the gov- 
ernment, that credit is due for even the small measure of order that was pre- 



firing on the people from various buildings, chiefly the Vic- 
toria Cafe and the Bauer Cafe at the corner of Unter den 
Linden and Friedrichstrasse, some buildings near the Fried- 
richstrasse railway station, other buildings farther down 
Unter den Linden, and the Engineers* Society building and 
the official home of the Reichstag president, the two last- 
named buildings situated across the street to the east of the 
Reichstag. While it is barely possible that some loyal cadets 
may have fired on a crowd in one or two places, it has never 
been definitely proved. The talk of resistance by officers is 
absurd. The only occupant of the residence of the Reichstag 
president, which was fired at with machine guns from the 
roof of the Reichstag, was one frightened old woman, who 
spent the day crouching in a corner of the cellar. There was 
nobody in the Engineers' building. The day's victims were 
all killed to no purpose by the wild shooting of persons— 
mainly youths — who lost their heads. The shooting con- 
tinued on Monday, but gradually died out. The stories sent 
to the outside world through the soviet-controlled Wolff 
Bureau of officers firing on the revolutionaries and then es- 
caping by subterranean passages were the inventions of ex- 
cited and untrained minds. 

It had been decided at Saturday night's conference to 
hold an election on Sunday morning for district workmen's 
and soldiers' councils, and to hold a meeting at the Circus 
Busch at five o'clock Sunday afternoon to form the govern- 
ment. Sunday morning's papers published the summons for 
the election. The larger factories were directed to elect one 
delegate for every thousand employees. Factories employ- 
ing fewer than five hundred persons were directed to unite 
for the election of delegates. Each battalion of soldiers was 
also to choose one delegate. These delegates were directed 
to meet at Circus Busch for the election of a provisional 

The Majority Socialists were in a difficult position. The 
Independents claimed — and with right — that they had 
"made the revolution." The preponderance of brute force 
was probably, so far as Berlin alone was concerned, on their 
side. In any event they had a support formidable enough to 



compel Scheidemann and his followers to make concessions 
to them. The three delegates from each party met again. 
The result of their deliberations was concessions on both 
sides. The Majority Socialists agreed to exclude bourgeois 
elements from the cabinet, but the Independents agreed 
.that this should not apply to those ministers (war, navy, 
etc.), whose posts required men of special training — the so- 
called Fachminister. The Independents consented to enter 
the government without placing a time-limit on their stay 
or on its existence. Each party was to designate three "peo- 
ple's commissioners" {Volksbeauftragte) , who were to have 
equal rights. The Independents stipulated further in their 
conditions (which were accepted) : 

"The political power shall be in the hands of the work- 
men's and soldiers' councils, which shall be summoned short- 
ly from all parts of the empire for a plenary session. 

"The question of a constituent assembly will not become 
a live issue until after a consolidation of the conditions cre- 
ated by the revolution, and shall therefore be reserved for 
later consideration." 

The Independents announced that, these conditions being 
accepted, their party had named as members of the govern-" 
ment Hugo Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann and Emil Barth. 
Dittmann had but recently been released from jail, where 
he was serving a short sentence for revolutionary and anti- 
war propaganda. He was secretary of the Independent So- 
cialist party's executive committee, an honest fanatic and 
but one step removed from a communist. Barth was in every 
way unfit to be a member of any government. There were 
grave stories afloat, some of them well founded, of his moral 
derelictions, and he was a man of no particular ability. 
Some months later, and several weeks after he had resigned 
from the cabinet, he was found riding about Southern Ger- 
many on the pass issued to him as a cabinet member and 
agitating for the overthrow of the government of which he 
had been a part. 

The Majority Socialists selected as their representatives 
in the government Friedrich (Fritz) Ebert, Phillip Scheide- 
mann and Otto Landsberg, the last named an able and re- 



spected lawyer and one of the intellectual leaders of the 
Berlin Socialists. 

When, at 5:00 p.m., the combined workmen's and sol- 
diers' councils of Greater Berlin met in the Circus Busch, 
Ebert was able to announce that the differences between the 
two Socialist parties had been adjusted. The announcement 
was greeted with hearty applause. The meeting had a some- 
what stormy character, but was more orderly than might 
have been expected. A considerable number of front-sol- 
diers were present, and the meeting was dominated through- 
out by them. They demonstrated at the outset that they had 
no sympathy with fanatic and ultraradical agitators and 
measures, and Liebknecht, who delivered a characteristic 
passionate harangue, demanding the exclusion of the Ma- 
jority Socialists from any participation in the government, 
had great difficulty in getting a hearing. The choice of the 
six "people's commissioners" was ratified by the meeting. 

It is a striking thing, explainable probably only by mass- 
psychology, that although the meeting was openly hostile 
to Liebknecht and his followers, it nevertheless voted by an 
overwhelming majority, to "send the Russian Workmen's 
and Soldiers' government our fraternal greetings," and de- 
cided that the new German government should "immediate- 
ly resume relations with the Russian government, whose 
representative in Berlin it awaits." 

The meeting adopted a proclamation declaring that the 
first task for the new government should be the conclusion 
of an armistice, "An immediate peace," said this proclama- 
tion, "is the revolution's parole. However this peace may 
be, it will be better than a continuation of the unprecedented 
slaughter."^ The proclamation declared that the socializa- 
tion of capitalistic means of production was feasible and 
necessary, and that the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council was 
"convinced that an upheaval along the same lines is being 
prepared throughout the whole world. It expects confident- 
ly that the proletariat of other countries will devote its en- 
tire might to prevent injustice being done to the German 

'Germany would have accepted almost any kind of peace in November. 
This is but one of many things indicating it. 



people at the end of the war."^ Following the adoption of 
this proclamation, the meeting elected a Vollsugsrat or ex- 
ecutive council from the membership of the workmen's and 
soldiers' councils present. It was made up of twenty-eight 
men, fourteen workmen and fourteen soldiers, and the Ma- 
jority and Independent Socialists were represented on each 
branch of the council with seven members. The twenty-eight 
men chosen were Emil Barth, Captain von Beerfelde, Berg- 
mann, Felix Bernhagen, Otto Braun, Franz Buchel, Max 
Cohen (Reuss), Erich Daumig, Heinrich Denecke, Paul 
Eckert, Christian Finzel, Gelberg, Gustav Gerhardt, Gierth, 
Gustav Heller, Ernst Jiilich, Georg Ledebour, Maynitz, 
Brutus Molkenbuhr, Richard Miiller, Paul Neuendorf, Hans 
Paasche, Walter Portner, Colin Ross, Otto Strobel, Waltz 
and P. Wegmann. Captain von Beerfelde was made chair- 
man of the soldiers' branch and Miiller of the workmen's 
representatives on this council. Miiller, a metal-worker by 
trade, was a rabid Independent Socialist, a fiery agitator and 
bitter opponent of a constituent assembly. It was largely due 
to his leadership and to the support accorded him by Lede- 
bour and certain other radical members of the Vollzugsrat 
that this council steadily drifted farther and farther toward 
the Independent and Spartacan side and ultimately became 
one of the greatest hindrances to honest government until 
its teeth were drawn in December. 

The council, however, started out well. Its first act, follow- 
ing the Circus Busch meeting, was to order the Lokal-Anzei- 
ger and the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung restored to 
their lawful owners, and this was done. The council formally 
confirmed the choice of the six Volksbeauftragte and estab- 
lished rules for their guidance. Neither the council nor the 
people's commissioners could claim to have their mandate 
from the whole Empire, but they assumed it. Revolutionary 
governments cannot be particular, and Berlin was, after all, 
the capital and most important city. There was, further- 

^There is something both characteristic and pathetic in the German So- 
cialists' confidence that the proletariat in the enemy countries would follow 
their example. The wish was, of course, father to the thought, but it exhibited 
that same striking inability to comprehend other peoples' psychology that 
characterized the Germans throughout the war. 



more, no time to wait for general elections. The Circus Busch 
meeting had good revolutionary precedents, and some sort 
of central government was urgently necessary. 

There was still some scattered firing in Berlin on Mon- 
day, but comparative order was established. The six-man 
cabinet was in almost uninterrupted session, and the first 
result of its deliberation was an edict, issued on Tuesday, 
making many fundamental changes in existing laws. The 
edict lifted the "state of siege," which had existed since the 
outbreak of the war. All limitations upon the right of as- 
sembly were removed, and it was especially provided that 
state employees and officials should enjoy the right freely 
to assemble. The censorship was abolished, including also 
the censorship of theaters.-^ "Expression of opinion in word 
and print" was declared free.^ The free exercise of religion 
was guaranteed. Amnesty was granted all political prison- 
ers, and pending prosecutions for political offenses were 
annulled.^ The Domestic Servants law was declared re- 
pealed.* It was promised that a general eight-hour law 

^Consistent efforts were made by those interested in discrediting all news 
sent from Germany after the revolution to make the general public believe 
that a rigid censorship of outgoing letters and news telegrams was still main- 
tained. The American so-called Military Intelligence — which is responsible 
for an appalling amount of misinformation — reported in January that the 
censorship was stricter than during the war. This was untrue. The author, 
at that time a working journalist in Berlin, was repeatedly entrusted with 
the censor's stamp and told to stamp his own messages when they were ready, 
since the censor desired to leave his office. The only reason for maintaining 
even the formality of a censorship was to prevent the illegitimate transfer of 
securities or money out of the country. There was no censorship whatever on 
news messages. 

'The immediate result of this was a flood of new papers, periodicals and 
pamphlets, some of them pornographic and many of them marked by the 
grossness which unfortunately characterizes much of the German humor. 
Some of the publishers fouled their own nests in a manner difficult to under- 
stand. One pamphlet sold on the streets was Die franzosischen Liebsckaften 
des deutschen Kronprinzen ivdhrend des Krieges. 

'This principle was to make much trouble later for the government, for 
the radical Socialists consider murder a "political crime" if the victim be a 
bourgeois politician. There are also extremists for whom any prisoner is a 
victim of capitalism, and hundreds of dangerous criminals were released in 
Berlin and various other cities in raids on jails and prisons. 

*Dom«stic servants, particularly those in hotels, were real gainers by the 
revolution. Chambermaids, for example, who had always been on duty from 
6 A.M. until II or I2 p.m., suddenly found themselves able, for the first time 
in their lives, to get enough sleep and to have some time at their own disposal. 



should become effective not later than January i, 19 19. 
Other sociological reforms were promised, and woman's 
suffrage was introduced with the provision that "all elections 
for public offices shall hereafter be conducted under equal, 
secret, general and direct vote on the proportional system 
by all males and females twenty years old or over."^ The 
same system, it was decreed, should be followed in the elec- 
tions for the national assembly. 

VorwdrtSj in a leader on the same day, spoke of the con- 
stituent assembly as of a thing assured. A good impression 
was made by the report that Hindenburg had remained at 
his post and placed himself at the disposition of the new 
government. Prince Leopold of Prussia also assured the 
government of his support. 

The revolution had started well. Reports that the Poles 
were plundering in Posen and Upper Silesia made little 
impression. The proletariat was intoxicated with its new 
liberty. The saner bourgeoisie were differently minded : "Das 
Base sind wir los; die Bosen sind gehliehen."^ 

^Twenty-five years had formerly been the age entitling one to vote. The 
reduction undoubtedly operated primarily in favor of the Socialists, for 
youth is inclined to radicalism everywhere. 

'We have shaken off the great evil ; the evil-doers have remained. 


"The German Socialistic Republic." 

THE character and completeness of the revolution 
were even yet not realized in all parts of Germany. 
Rulers of various states, in some places aided by 
Majority Socialists, made desperate eleventh-hour attempts 
to save their thrones. Prince Regent Aribert of Anhalt re- 
ceived a deputation of National Liberals, Progressives and 
Socialists, who presented a program for parliamentarization. 
The Socialists, Progressives, Clericals and Guelphs in Bruns- 
wick coalesced "to further a policy of peace and progress and 
to spare our people severe internal disorders." The two Reuss 
principalities amalgamated, and a reformed franchise and 
parliamentarization were promised. The government in 
Hesse-Darmstadt ordered thorough parliamentary reforms. 
The Wiirttemburg ministry resigned and the Progressive 
Reichstag Deputy Liesching was appointed Minister-Presi- 
dent. Grand Duke Ernst Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar re- 
nounced the right of exemption from taxation enjoyed not 
only by him personally, but by all his family and court offi- 
cials. Grand Duke Friedrich Franz of Mecklenburg-Schwe- 
rin received a deputation to discuss parliamentary reforms. A 
Socialist meeting in Breslau broke up in disorder because 
the Majority Socialists opposed the Independent Socialists' 
demand that force be employed to secure the fulfillment of 
their demands. 

But dynasties could not longer be saved. When night 
came on Monday, the revolution in Germany was to all 
practical intents an accomplished fact. Fourteen of the twen- 
ty-five states, including all four kingdoms and all the other 
really important states, were already securely in the revo- 
lutionaries' hands. The red flag waved over the historic 



royal palace in Berlin. King Ludwig of Bavaria had been 
declared deposed and had fled from his capital. King Fried- 
rich August of Saxony was still nominally occupying his 
throne, but soldiers'^ councils had taken over the govern- 
ment both in Dresden and Leipsic, and were considering 
the King's abdication. Wiirttemberg had been declared a 
republic and the King had announced that he would not 
be an obstacle to any movement demanded by the ma- 
jority of his people. The free cities of Hamburg, Bremen 
and Liibeck were being ruled by Socialists. In the grand 
duchies of Oldenburg, Baden, Hesse and the Mecklenburgs 
the rulers' power was gone and their thrones were tottering. 
Grand Duke Ernst August of Brunswick, the Kaiser's son- 
in-law, abdicated. 

And the Kaiser and King of Prussia fled. 

Nothing more vividly illustrates the physical, mental and 
moral exhaustion of the German people at this time than 
the fact that the former ruler's flight hardly evoked more 
than passing interest. Many newspapers published it with 
no more display than they gave to orders by Germany's new 
rulers, and none "played it up" as a great news item. 

The clearest picture of the occurrences at the Kaiser's 
headquarters on the fatal November 9th has been given by 
General Count von Schulenberg, chief of the General Staff 
of the Crown Prince's army. Von Schulenberg was present 
also on November ist, when Minister of the Interior Drews 
presented the government's request that the Kaiser abdi- 
cate. Drews had hardly finished speaking, reports von Schul- 
enberg, before the Kaiser exclaimed : 

"You, a Prussian official, who have sworn the oath of 
fealty to your king, how can you venture to come before me 
with such a proposal? 

"Have you considered what chaos would follow? Think 
of it ! I abdicate for my person and my house ! All the dynas- 
ties in Germany collapse in an instant. The army has no 
leader, the front disintegrates, the soldiers stream in dis- 
order across the Rhine. The revolutionaries join hands, 
murder, incendiarism and plundering follow, and the enemy 
assists. I have no idea of abdicating. The King of Prussia 



may not be false to Germany, least of all at a time like this. 
I, too, have sworn an oath, and I will keep it." 

Hindenburg and Groener (Ludendorff's successor) shared 
the Kaiser's opinion at this time that abdication was not to 
be thought of. The situation, however, altered rapidly in 
the next few days. Von Schulenburg declares that Scheide- 
mann^ was the chief factor in the movement to compel the 
monarch to go. Early on the morning of November 9th, when 
von Schulenberg reached headquarters building in Spa, he 
found general depression. "Everybody appeared to have 
lost his head." The various army chiefs were present to re- 
port on the feeling among their men. Hindenburg had re- 
ported to them that revolution had broken out in Germany, 
that railways, telegraphs and provision depots were in the 
revolutionaries' hands, and that some of the bridges across 
the Rhine had been occupied by them. The armies were 
thus threatened with being cut off from the homeland. Von 
Schulenberg continues : 

"I met Generals von Plessen and Marschall, who told me 
that the Field Marshall (Hindenburg) and General Groen- 
er were on the way to tell the Kaiser that his immediate ab- 
dication was necessary. I answered: 'You're mad. The 
army is on the Kaiser's side.' The two took me with them 
to the Kaiser. The conference began by Hindenburg's saying 
to the Kaiser that he must beg to be permitted to resign, 
since he could not, as a Prussian officer, give his King the 
message which he must give. The Kaiser answered : 'Well, 
let us hear the message first.' Thereupon Groener gave a 
long description of the situation, the homeland in the hands 
of revolutionists, revolution to be expected in Berlin at any 
minute, and the army not to be depended on. To attempt 
with the enemy in the rear to turn the army about and set 
it in march for civil warfare was not to be thought of. The 
only salvation for the Fatherland lay in the Kaiser's im- 
mediate abdication. Hindenburg, the general intendant and 
chief of military railways agreed with Groener." 

The Kaiser asked von Schulenberg's opinion. He dis- 
agreed with the others, and counseled resistance. He agreed 

'Cf. Scheidemann's statement to von Payer, chapter viii. 



that it would be impossible to invade all Germany with 
united front, but advocated an attack on a few places, such 
as Cologne and Aachen, with picked troops, and an appeal 
to the people to rise against the marines, who had been "in- 
cited to action by the Jews, who had made great profits in 
the war, and by persons who had escaped doing their duty 
in the war and were now trying to knife the army in the 

The Kaiser approved this counsel. He would not abdicate, 
he declared, nor would he have any part in bringing about 
civil warfare, but Cologne, Aachen and Verviers must be 
attacked immediately. 

Groener was unconvinced. He declared that the revolu- 
tion had gone too far and was too well organized through- 
out Germany to make it possible to put it down by force of 
arms. Moreover, he said, several army chiefs had reported 
that the army could no longer be depended on. The Kaiser 
thereupon asked for a report from every army chief on the 
army's dependability. A summons to this effect was sent out, 
and Groener, Hindenburg and von Schulenberg remained 
with the Kaiser. 

One calamitous report after another began coming from 
Berlin. The military governor reported that he had no long- 
er any dependable troops. The Chancellor telephoned that 
civil war was inevitable unless the Kaiser's abdication was 
received within a few minutes. The Kaiser and the Crown 
Prince conferred together. Another report came from the 
Chancellor that the situation in Berlin was steadily becom- 
ing graver. Admiral von Hintze, Minister of Foreign Af- 
fairs, who had joined the little group in the Kaiser's rooms, 
declared that the monarchy could not be saved unless the 
Kaiser abdicated at once. 

Von Schulenberg continues : 

"His Majesty thereupon told Excellency von Hintze to 
telephone to the Chancellor that, in order to prevent blood- 
shed, he would abdicate as Kaiser, but that he would remain 
as King of Prussia and not leave his army. I declared that 
His Majesty's decision should be formulated in writing and 
telephoned to the Chancellor only when it bore the Kaiser's 



signature. His Majesty thereupon commissioned Excellency 
von Hintze, Generals von Pless and Marschall and myself 
to draw up the declaration. While we were at work on it, 
the chief of the Imperial Chancellery, Excellency von 
Wahnschaffe, telephoned. I talked with him myself, and 
when he said that the abdication must be in Berlin within a 
few minutes, answered that such an important matter as 
the Kaiser's abdication could not be completed in a few 
minutes. The decision was made and was now being put into 
form ; the government must be patient for the half-hour 
that would be required to place the abdication in its hands. 
The declaration had the following form : 

'"i. His Majesty is prepared to abdicate as Kaiser if fur- 
ther bloodshed can be hindered thereby. 

" *2. His Majesty desires that there be no civil war. 

"'3. His Majesty remains as King of Prussia and will lead 
his army back to the homeland in disciplined order.' 

"This declaration was approved and signed by His Maj- 
esty, and was telephoned by Excellency von Hintze to the 
Chancellery. At 8:10 o'clock in the evening His Majesty 
received from the office of the Imperial Chancellor a report 
of the announcement made public through the Wolff Bureau, 
in which the Imperial Chancellor, without waiting for the 
Kaiser's answer, had reported the Kaiser's abdication as 
Kaiser and King. His Majesty received the news with the 
deepest seriousness and with royal dignity. He asked my 
A'iews on the situation. I answered : 

" 'It is a coup d'etat, an abuse of power to which your 
Majesty must not submit. Your Majesty is King of Prussia, 
and there is now more than ever a pressing necessity for 
Your Majesty to remain with the army as supreme com- 
mander. I guarantee that it will be true to Your Majesty.' 

"His Majesty replied that he was and would remain King 
of Prussia, and that he would not abandon the army. There- 
upon he commissioned Generals von Pless and Marschall 
and Excellency von Hintze to report to the Field Marshal 
what had happened. He then took leave of the Crown Prince 
and of me. After I had left, he called me back, thanked me 
once more and said : 



'"I remain King of Prussia and I remain with the troops.' 

" I answered : 

'"Come to the front troops in my section. Your Majesty- 
will be in absolute safety there. Promise me to remain with 
the army in all events.' 

"His Majesty took leave of me with the words : 

"'I remain with the army.' 

"I took leave of him and have not seen him again." 

In the general condemnation of the Kaiser, his flight to 
Holland has been construed as due to cowardice. His motives 
are unimportant, but this construction appears to be unjust. 
He was convinced that he had nothing to fear from his 
people, nor is there any reason to suppose that he would for 
a moment have been in danger if he had remained. It is also 
probable that he entertained hopes of leading a successful 
counter-revolutionary movement. But his protests were 
overruled by men in whom he had great confidence. Hin- 
denburg and Groener, following an unfavorable report from 
nearly all the army chiefs regarding the feeling in their 
commands, told the Kaiser that they could not guarantee 
his safety for a single night. They declared even that the 
picked storm-battalion guarding his headquarters at Spa 
was not to be depended on. 

Others added their entreaties, and finally, unwillingly 
and protestingly, the Kaiser consented to go. 

With him went the Crown Prince. There was no one left 
in Germany to whom adherents of a counter-revolution 
could rally. Scheming politicians for months afterward 
painted on every wall the spectre of counter-revolution, and 
it proved a powerful weapon of agitation against the more 
conservative and democratic men in charge of the country's 
affairs, but counter-revolution from above — and that was 
what these leaders falsely or ignorantly pretended to fear — 
was never possible, from the time the armistice was 
signed until the peace was made at Versailles. Counter-revo- 
lution ever threatened the stability of the government, but 
it was the gory counter-revolution of Bolshevism. 

The Kaiser's flight had the double effect of encouraging 
the Socialists and discouraging the Conservatives, the fight 



wing of the National Liberals and the few prominent men 
of other bourgeois parties from whom at least a passive re- 
sistance might otherwise have been expected. The Junkers 
disappeared from view, and, disappearing, took with them 
the ablest administrative capacities of Germany, men whose 
ability was unquestioned, but who were now so severely 
compromised that any participation by them in a demo- 
cratic government was impossible. "The German People's 
Republic" as it had been termed for a brief two days, be- 
came the "German Socialistic Republic." Numerically the 
strongest party in the land, the Socialists of all wings in- 
sisted upon putting the red stamp upon the remains of Im- 
perial Germany, 

In their rejoicing at the revolution and the end of the 
war, the great mass of the people forgot for the moment that 
they were living in a conquered land. Those that did re- 
member it were lulled into a feeling of over-optimistic se- 
curity by the recollection of President Wilson's repeated 
declarations that the war was being waged against the Ger- 
man governmental system and not against the German peo- 
ple, and by the declaration in Secretary Lansing's note of 
the previous week that the Allies had accepted the Presi- 
dent's peace points with the exception of the second. 

The Soldiers' and Workmen's Councils held plenary ses- 
sions on Monday and ratified the proceedings of Sunday. 
The spirit of the proceedings, especially in the Soldiers' 
Council, was markedly moderate. Ledebour, one of the most 
radical of the Independent Socialists, was all but howled 
down when he tried to address the soldiers' meeting in the 
Reichstag. Colin Ross, appealing for harmonious action by 
all factions of Social-Djemocracy, was received with ap- 
plause. The Vollzugsrat, which was now in theory the su- 
preme governing body of Germany, also took charge of the 
affairs of Prussia and Berlin. Two Majority and two Inde- 
pendent Socialists were appointed "people's commissioners" 
in Berlin. It is worthy of note that all four of these men were 
Jews. Almost exactly one per cent of the total population 
of Germany was made up of Jews, but here, as in Russia, 
they played a part out of all proportion to their numbers. 



In all the revolutionary governmental bodies formed under 
the German Socialistic Republic it would be difficult to find 
a single one in which they did not occupy from a quarter to 
a half of all the seats, and they preponderated in many 

The Vollzugsrat made a fairly clean sweep among the 
Prussian ministers, filling the majority of posts with Ge- 
nossen. Many of the old ministers, however, were retained 
in the national government, including Dr. Solf as Foreign 
Minister and General Scheuch as Minister of War, but 
each of the bourgeois ministers retained was placed under 
the supervision of two Socialists, one from each party, and 
he could issue no valid decrees without their counter-sig- 
nature. The same plan was followed by the revolutionary 
governments of the various federal states. Some of the con- 
trollers selected were men of considerable ability, but even 
these were largely impractical theorists without any experi- 
ence in administration. For the greater part, however, they 
were men who had no qualifications for their important 
posts except membership in one of the Socialist parties and 
a deep distrust of all bourgeois officials. The Majority So- 
cialist controllers, even when they inclined to agree with 
their bourgeois department chiefs on matters of policy, rare- 
ly dared do so because of the shibboleth of solidarity still 
uniting to some degree both branches of the party. Later, 
when the responsibilities of power had sobered them and 
rendered them more conservative, and when they found 
themselves more bitterly attacked than the bourgeoisie by 
their former Genossen, they shook off in some degree the 
thralldom of old ideas, but meanwhile great and perhaps 
irreparable damage had been done. 

The revolutionary government faced at the very outset a 
more difficult task than had ever confronted a similar gov- 
ernment at any time in the world's history. The people, 
starving, their physical, mental and moral powers of re- 
sistance gone, were ready to follow the demagogue who 
made the most glowing promises. The ablest men of the 
Empire were sulking in their tents, or had been driven into 
an enforced seclusion, and the men in charge of the govern- 



ment were without any practical experience in governing 
or any knowledge of constructive statecraft. Every one knew 
that the war was practically ended, but thousands of men 
were nevertheless being slaughtered daily to no end. 

In all the Empire's greater cities the revolutionaries, put- 
ting into disastrous effect their muddled theories of the 
"brotherhood of man," had opened the jails and prisons and 
flooded the country with criminals. What this meant is dim- 
ly indicated by the occurrences in Berlin ten days later, 
when Spartacans raided Police Headquarters and liberated 
the prisoners confined there. Among the forty-nine per- 
sons thus set free were twenty-eight thieves and bur- 
glars and five blackmailers and deserters; most of the 
others were old offenders with long criminal records. 
This was but the grist from one jail in a sporadic raid and 
the first ten days of November had resulted in wholesale 
prison-releases of the same kind. The situation thus created 
would have been threatening enough in any event, but the 
new masters of the German cities, many of whom had good 
personal reasons for hating all guardians of law and order, 
disarmed the police and further crippled their efficiency by 
placing them under the control of "class-conscious" soldiers 
who, at a time when every able-bodied fighting man was 
needed on the west front, filled the streets of the greater 
cities and especially of Berlin. 

The result was what might have been expected. Many of 
the new guardians of law and order were themselves mem- 
bers of the criminal classes, and those who were not had 
neither any acquaintance with criminals and their ways nor 
with methods of preventing or detecting crime. The police, 
deprived of their weapons and — more fatal still — of their 
authority, were helpless. And this occurred in the face of a 
steadily increasing epidemic of criminality, and especially 
juvenile criminality, which had been observed in all belliger- 
ent countries as one of the concomitants of war and attained 
greater proportions in Germany than anywhere else. 

Nor was this the only encouragement of crime officially 
offered. In ante-bellum days, when German cities were or- 
derly and efficient police and gendarmerie carefully watched 



the comings and goings of every inhabitant or visitor in the 
land, every person coming into Germany or changing his 
residence was compelled to register at the police-station in 
his district. But now, when the retention and enforcement 
of this requirement would have been of inestimable value 
to the government, it was generally abolished. The writer, 
reaching Berlin a week after the revolution, went directly 
to the nearest police-station to report his arrival. 

"You are no longer required to report to the police," said 
the Beamier in charge. 

And thus the bars were thrown down for criminals and — 
what was worse — for the propagandists and agents of the 
Russian Soviet Republic. Die neue Freiheit (the new free- 
dom) was interpreted in a manner justifying Goethe's fa- 
mous dictum of a hundred years earlier that "equality and 
freedom can be enjoyed only in the delirium of insanity" 
{Gleichheit und Freiheit konnen nur im Taumel des Wahn- 
sin7is genossen werden). 

The Vollzugsrat, from whose composition better things 
had been expected, immediately laid plans for the formation 
of a Red Guard on the Russian pattern. On November 13th 
it called a meeting of representatives of garrisons in Greater 
Berlin and of the First Corps of Konigsberg to discuss the 
functions of the Saldiers' Council. It laid before the meeting 
its plan to equip a force of two thousand "socialistically 
schooled and politically organized workingmen with mili- 
tary training" to guard against the danger of a counter- 
revolution. It redounds to the credit of the soldiers that 
they immediately saw the cloven hoof of the proposal. "Why 
do we need two thousand Red Guards in Berlin?" was the 
cry that arose. Opposition to the plan was practically unani- 
mous, and the meeting adopted the following resolution : 

"Greater Berlin's garrison, represented by its duly elect- 
ed Soldiers' Council, will view with distrust the weaponing 
of workingmen as long as the government which they are 
intended to protect does not expressly declare itself in favor 
of summoning a national assembly as the only basis for the 
adoption of a constitution." 

The meeting took a decided stand against Bolshevism 



and, in general, against sweeping radicalism. All speakers 
condemned terrorism from whatever side it might be at- 
tempted, and declared that plundering and murder should 
be summarily punished. The destructive plans of the Spar- 
tacus group found universal condemnation, and nearly all 
speakers emphasized that the Soldiers' Council had no politi- 
cal role to play. Its task was merely to preserve order, protect 
the people and assist in bringing about an orderly admin- 
istration of the government's affairs. The council adopted 
a resolution calling for the speediest possible holding of 
elections for a constituent assembly. 

On the following day the Vollzugsrat announced that, 
in view of the garrisons' opposition, orders for the forma- 
tion of the Red Guard had been rescinded. The Soldiers' 
Council deposed Captain von Beerfelde, one of their four- 
teen representatives on the executive council, "because he 
was endeavoring to lead the revolution into the course of 
the radicals." It was von Beerfelde who, supporting the 
fourteen workmen's representatives on the Vollzugsrat, had 
been largely instrumental in the original decision to place 
the capital at the mercy of an. armed rabble. 

The steadfast attitude of the soldiers was the more as- 
tonishing in view of the great number of deserters in Great- 
er Berlin at this time. Their number has been variously esti- 
mated, but it is probable that it reached nearly sixty thou- 
sand. With an impudent shamelessness impossible to under- 
stand, even when one realizes what they had suffered, these 
self-confessed cowards and betrayers of honest men now 
had the effrontery to form a "Council of Deserters, Strag- 
glers and Furloughed Soldiers," and to demand equal rep- 
resentation on all government bodies and in the Soviets. 
Liebknecht played the chief role in organizing these men,, 
but Ledebour, already so radical that he was out of sympa- 
thy even with the reddest Independent Socialists, and cer- 
tain other Independents and Spartacans assisted. This was 
too much for even the revolutionary and class-conscious 
soldiers under arms, and nearly a month later at least one 
Berlin regiment still retained enough martial pride to fire 
on a procession of these traitors. 



In these deserters and stragglers, and in the thousands of 
criminals of every big city, including those liberated from 
jails and prisons by the revolution, Liebknecht and his 
lieutenants found tools admirably adapted to their ends. 
The Spartacans had already been indirectly recognized as 
a separate political party in an announcement made by the 
Workmen's and Soldiers' Council on November i ith, which, 
referring to the seizure of the Lokal-Anzeiger by the Spar- 
tacans and of the Norddeutsche AUgemeine Zeitnng by the 
Independents, pointed out that "all the Socialist factions in 
Berlin now have their daily paper." The Spartacans now 
organized. Ledebour, an aged fanatic, temperamental, never 
able to agree with the tenets or members of any existing 
party, organized an "Association of Revolutionary Fore- 
men," which was recruited from the factories and made up 
of violent opponents of democratic government. To all in- 
tents and purposes this association must be reckoned as a 
wing of the Spartacus group. It played a large part in the 
January and March uprisings against the government, and 
throughout strengthened the hands of the opponents of de- 
mocracy and the advocates of soviet rule in Germany. 

Despite all its initial extravagances, the bona fides of the 
Ebert-Haase government at this time cannot fairly be ques- 
tioned. It honestly desired to restore order in Germany and 
to institute a democratic government. With the exception 
of Barth, the least able and least consequential member of 
the cabinet, all were agreed that a constituent assembly 
must be summoned. Haase and Dittmann, the two other 
Independent Socialist members, had not yet begun to co- 
quet with the idea of soviet government, although, in the 
matter of a constituent assembly, they were already trying 
to hunt with the hounds and run with the hares by favoring 
its summoning, but demanding that the elections therefor 
be postponed until the people could be "enlightened in the 
Social-Democratic sense." This meant, of course, "in the 
Independent Social-Democratic sense," which, as we shall 
see, eventually degenerated into open advocacy of the domi- 
nation of the proletariat. 

To this government, facing multifold tasks, inexperi- 



enced in ruling, existing only on sufferance and at best a 
makeshift and compromise, the armistice of November nth 
dealt a terrible moral and material blow. A wave of stupe- 
fied indignation and resentment followed the publication 
of its terms, and this feeling was increased by the general 
realization of Germany's helplessness. Hard terms had, in- 
deed, been expected, but nothing like these. One of the 
chief factors that made bloodless revolution possible had 
been the reliance of the great mass of the German people on 
the declarations of leaders of enemy powers — ^particularly of 
the United States — that the war was being waged against 
the German governmental system, the HohenzoUerns and 
militarism, and not against the people themselves. There can 
be no doubt that these promises of fair treatment for a demo- 
cratic Germany did incalculably much to paralyze opposi- 
tion to the revolution. 

In the conditions of the armistice the whole nation con- 
ceived itself to have been betrayed and deceived. Whether 
this feeling was justified is not the part of the historian to de- 
cide. It is enough that it existed. l{ was confirmed and 
strengthened by the fact that the almost unanimous opinion 
of neutral lands, including even those that had been the 
strongest sympathizers of the Allied cause, condemned the 
armistice terms unqualifiedly, both on ethical and material 
grounds. It is ancient human experience that popular dis- 
affection first finds its scapegoat in the government, and 
history repeated itself here. The unreflecting masses forgot 
for the moment the government's powerlessness. It saw only 
the abandonment of rich German lands to the enemy, the 
continuance of the "hunger-blockade" and, worst of all, the 
retention by the enemy of the German prisoners. Of all the 
harsh provisions of the armistice, none other caused so 
much mental and moral anguish as the realization that, 
while enemy prisoners were to be sent back to their families, 
the Germans, many of whom had been in captivity since the 
first days of the war, must still remain in hostile prison- 
camps. The authority of the government that accepted these 
terms was thus seriously shaken at the very outset. 

The government was as seriously affected materially as 



morally by the armistice. During the whole of the last year 
food and fuel conditions had been gravely affected by lim- 
ited transportation facilities. Now, with an army of several 
millions to be brought home in a brief space of time, five 
thousand locomotives and 150,000 freight cars had to be 
delivered up to the enemy. This was more than a fifth of the 
entire rolling stock possessed by Germany at this time. More- 
over, nearly half of all available locomotives and cars were 
badly in need of repairs, and a considerable percentage of 
these were in such condition that they could not be used at 
all. Nor was this all. Although nothing had been stipulated 
in the armistice conditions regarding the size or character of 
the engines to be surrendered, only the larger and more 
powerful ones were accepted. One month later it had been 
found necessary to transport 810 locomotives to the places 
agreed upon for their surrender, and of these only 206 had 
been accepted. Of 15,720 cars submitted in the same period, 
only 9,098 had been accepted. The result was a severe over- 
burdening of the German railways. 

What this meant for Germany's economic life and for 
the people generally became apparent in many ways 
during the winter, and in none more striking than in a fuel 
shortage which brought much suffering to the inhabitants of 
the larger cities. The coalfields of the Ruhr district required 
twenty-five thousand cars daily to transport even their di- 
minishing production, but the number available dropped be- 
low ten thousand. Only eight hundred cars were available 
to care for the production in Upper Silesia, and a minimum 
of three thousand was required. The effect on the transpor- 
tation of foodstuffs to the cities cannot so definitely be esti- 
mated, but that it was serious is plain. 

The armistice provided that the blockade should be main- 
tained. In reality it was not only maintained, but extended. 
Some of the most fertile soil in Germany lies on the left 
bank of the Rhine, and cities along that river had depended 
on these districts for much of their food. With enemy occu- 
pation, these supplies were cut off. What this meant was 
terribly apparent in Diisseldorf after the occupation had 
been completed. Diisseldorf, with a population of nearly 



400,000, had depended on the left bank of the Rhine for 
virtually all its dairy products. These were now cut off, and 
the city authorities found themselves able to secure a maxi- 
mum of less than 7,000 quarts of milk daily for the inhabit- 

A further extension of the blockade came when German 
fishermen were forbidden to fish even in their territorial 
waters in the North Sea and the Baltic. The available sup- 
ply of fish in Germany had already dropped, as has been 
described, to a point where it was possible to secure a ration 
only once in every three or four weeks. And now even this 
trifling supply was no longer available. Vast stores of food 
were abandoned, destroyed or sold to the inhabitants of the 
occupied districts when the armies began the evacuation of 
France and Belgium, and millions of soldiers, returning 
to find empty larders at home, further swelled the ranks of 
the discontented. 

Only the old maxim that all is fair in war can explain or 
justify the great volume of misleading reports that were 
sent out regarding food conditions in Germany in the 
months following the armistice. Men who were able to spend 
a hundred marks daily for their food, or whose observations 
were limited to the most fertile agricultural districts of 
Germany, generalized carelessly and reported that there 
were no evidences of serious shortage anywhere, except 
perhaps, in one or two of the country's largest cities. Men 
who knew conditions thoroughly hesitated to report them 
because of the supposed exigencies of war and wartime 
policies, or, reporting them in despite thereof, saw them- 
selves denounced as pro-German propagandists. 

Months later, when perhaps irreparable damage had been 
done, the truth began to come out. The following Associ- 
ated Press dispatch is significant : 

"London, July i. — Germany possessed a sound case in 
claiming early relief, according to reports of British officers 
who visited Silesia in April to ascertain economic condi- 
tions prevailing in Germany. A white paper issued tonight 
gives the text of their reports and the result of their in- 



" It is said that there was a genuine shortage of food- 
stuffs and the health of the population had suffered so se- 
riously that the working classes had reached such a stage of 
desperation that they could not be trusted to keep the peace." 

One is told officially that the old regime in Russia fell 
"because as an autocracy it did not respond to the demo- 
cratic demands of the Russian people."^ This is an ascrip- 
tion to the Russian people of elevated sentiments to which 
they have not the shadow of a claim. The old regime fell 
because it did not respond to the demands of the Ru.ssian 
people for food. Wilhelm II fell because the Germans were 
hungry. It was hunger that handicapped the efforts of the 
Ebert-Haase government throughout its existence and it 
was hunger that proved the best recruiting agent for Lieb- 
knecht and the other elements that were trying to make 
democracy impossible in Germany. If any people with ex- 
perience of hunger were asked to choose between the ab- 
solutism of Peter the Great with bursting granaries and the 
most enlightened democracy with empty bins, democracy 
would go away with its hands as empty as its bins. 

"Give us this day our daily bread" is the first material 
petition in tlie prayer of all the Christian peoples of the 
world, but only those who have hungered can realize its 
deep significance. 

The fact is not generally known — and will doubtless 
cause surprise — that a determined effort was made by the 
American, French and British governments after the armis- 
tice to make first-hand independent reporting of events in 
Germany impossible. Assistant Secretary of State Polk fol- 
lowed the example of the other governments named by is- 
suing on November 13th an order, which was cabled to all 
American embassies and legations abroad, prohibiting any 
American journalist from entering Germany. The State 
Department refused to issue passports to journalists de- 
siring to go to adjoining neutral countries except upon their 
pledge not to enter Germany without permission. Requests 
for permission were either denied, or (in some instances) 
not even acknowledged. 

^War Cyclopedia, issued by the Committee on Public Information, p. 241. 



There were, however, some American journalists sta- 
tioned in lands adjoining Germany, and a few of these, al- 
though warned by members of their diplomatic corps, con- 
ceived it to be their duty to their papers and to their people 
as well, to try to learn the truth about the German situation, 
instead of depending longer upon hearsay and neutral jour- 
nalists. Some of the most valuable reports reaching Wash- 
ington in these early days came from men who had dis- 
obeyed the State Department's orders, but this did not save 
at least two of the disobedient ones from suffering very real 
punishment at the hands of resentful officials. 

What the purpose of the State Department was in thus 
attempting to prevent any but army officers or government 
officials from reporting on conditions in Germany the writer 
does not know. It is probable, however, that the initiative 
did not come from Washington. 



"The New Freedom." 

THE conclusion of the armistice was the signal for a 
general collapse among Germany's armed forces. 
This did not at first affect the troops in the trenches, 
and many of them preserved an almost exemplary spirit and 
discipline until they reached home, but the men of the etape 
— the positions back of the front and at the military bases — 
threw order and discipline to the winds. It was here that 
revolutionary propaganda and red doctrines had secured the 
most adherents in the army, and the effect was quickly seen. 
Abandoning provisions, munitions and military stores gen- 
erally, looting and terrifying the people of their own vil- 
lages and cities, the troops of the etape straggled back to 
the homeland, where they were welcomed by the elements 
responsible for Germany's collapse. 

The government sent a telegram to the Supreme Army 
Command, pointing out the necessity of an orderly demo- 
bilization and emphasizing the chaotic conditions that would 
result if army units arbitrarily left their posts. Command- 
ing officers were directed to promulgate these orders : 

" I. Relations between officers and men must rest upon 
mutual confidence. The soldier's voluntary submission to 
his officer and comradely treatment of the soldier by his 
superior are conditions precedent for this. 

"2. Officers retain their power of command. Uncondi- 
tional obedience when on duty is of decisive importance if 
the return march to the German homeland is to be suc- 
cessfully carried out. Military discipline and order in the 
armies must be maintained in all circumstances. 

"3. For the maintenance of confidence between officers 



and men the soldiers' councils have advisory powers in mat- 
ters relating to provisioning, furloughs and the infliction 
of military punishments. It is their highest duty to endeavor 
to prevent disorder and mutiny. 

"4. Officers and men shall have the same rations. 

"5. Officers and men shall receive the same extra allow- 
ances of pay and perquisites." 

"Voluntary submission" by soldiers to officers might be 
feasible in a victorious and patriotic army, but it is im- 
practicable among troops infected with Socialist doctrines 
and retreating before their conquerors. Authority, once de- 
stroyed, can never be regained. This was proved not only 
at the front, but at home as well. Die neue Freiheit (the new 
freedom), a phrase glibly mouthed by all supporters of the 
revolution, assumed the same grotesque forms in Germany 
as in Russia. Automobiles, commandeered by soldiers from 
army depots or from the royal garages, flying red flags, 
darted through the streets at speeds defying all regulations, 
filled with unwashed and unshaven occupants lolling on the 
cushioned seats. Cabmen drove serenely up the left side 
of Unter den Linden, twiddling their fingers at the few 
personally escorted and disarmed policemen whom they 
saw. Gambling games ran openly at street-corners. Soldiers 
mounted improvised booths in the streets and sold cigarettes 
and soap looted from army stores. 

Earnest revolutionaries traveled through the city look- 
ing for signs containing the word kaiserlich (imperial) 
or koniglich (royal), and mutilated or destroyed them. 
Court purveyors took down their signs or draped them. The 
Kaiser Keller in Friedrichstrasse became simply a Keller 
and the bust of the Kaiser over the door was covered with a 
piece of canvas. The Royal Opera-House became the "Op- 
era-House Unter den Linden." 

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the German 
people in peace times had been their love of order. Even the 
superficial observer could not help noticing it, and one of its 
manifestations earned general commendation. This was that 
the unsightly billboards and placarded walls that disfigure 
American cities were never seen in Germany. Neat and 




sightly columns were erected in various places for official, 
theatrical or business announcements, and no posters might 
be affixed anywhere else. Nothing more strikingly illustrates 
the character of the collapse in Germany than the fact that 
it destroyed even this deeply ingrained love of order. Ge- 
nossen with brushes and paste-pots calmly defaced house- 
walls and even show windows on main streets with placards 
whose quality showed that German art, too, had suffered in 
the general collapse of the Empire. 

There was something so essentially childish in the man- 
ner in which a great part of the people reacted to die neue 
Freiheit that one is not surprised to hear that it also turned 
juvenile heads. Several hundred schoolboys and schoolgirls, 
from twelve to seventeen years old, paraded through the 
main streets of Berlin, carrying red flags and placards with 
incendiary inscriptions. The procession stopped before the 
Prussian Diet building, where the Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Council was in session, and presented a list of demands. 
These included the vote for all persons eighteen years old or 
over, the abolition of corporal punishment and participation 
by the school-children in the administration of the schools. 
The chairman of the Vollzugsrat of the council addressed 
the juvenile paraders, and declared that he was in complete 
sympathy with their demands, 

A seventeen-year-old lad replied with a speech in which 
he warned the council that there would be terrible conse- 
quences if the demands were not granted. The procession 
then went on to the Reichstag building, where speeches 
were made by several juvenile orators, demanding the res- 
ignation or removal of Ebert and Scheidemann and threat- 
ening a general juvenile strike if this demand was not ac- 
cepted immediately. 

Enthusiasm was heightened in the first week of the revo- 
lutionary government's existence by reports that enemy 
countries were also in the grip of revolution. Tuesday's 
papers published a report that Foch had been murdered, 
Poincare had fled from Paris and the French government 
had been overthrown. Reports came from Hamburg and 
Kiel that English sailors had hoisted the red flag and were 



fraternizing with German ships' crews on the North Sea. 
7'he Soldiers' Council at Paderborn reported that the red 
flag had been hoisted in the French trenches from the Bel- 
gian border to Mons, and that French soldiers were frater- 
nizing with the Germans. That these reports found con- 
siderable credence throws a certain light on the German 
psychology of ,these days. The reaction when they were 
found to be false further increased the former despondency. 

The six-man cabinet decreed on November 15th the dis- 
solution of the Prussian Diet and the abolishment of the 
House of Lords. Replying to a telegram from President 
Fehrenbach of the Reichstag, asking whether the govern- 
ment intended to prevent the Reichstag from coming to- 
gether in the following week, the cabinet telegraphed : 

"As a consequence of the political overturn, which has 
done away with the institution of German Kaiserdom as 
well as with the Federal Council in its capacity of a law- 
giving body, the Reichstag which was elected in 191 2 can 
also not reconvene." 

The cabinet — subject to the control theoretically exer- 
cisable by the Vollzugsrat — was thus untrammeled by other 
legislative or administrative institutions. But it was, as we 
have seen, trammeled from without by the disastrous ma- 
terial conditions in Germany, by the mental and moral ship- 
wreck of its people, by the peculiar German psychology and 
by the political immaturity of the whole nation — a political 
immaturity, moreover, which even certain cabinet members 
shared. From within the cabinet was also seriously handi- 
capped from the start by its "parity" composition, that is to 
say, the fact that power was equally divided between Ma- 
jority and Independent Socialists without a deciding casting 
vote in case of disagreement along party lines. If the Inde- 
pendent Socialist cabinet members and the rank and file of 
their party had comprehended the real character and com- 
pleteness of the revolution, as it was comprehended by some 
of the theorists of the party — notably Karl Kautsky and 
Eduard Bernstein — and if they had avoided their disastrous 
fellowship with Joffe and other Bolshevik agents, the sub- 
sequent course of events would have been different. But they 



lacked this comprehension and they had been defiled in 
handling the pitch of Bolshevism. 

All the revolutions of the last century and a quarter had 
been of bourgeois origin. They had, however, been carried 
into effect with the aid of the proletariat, since the bour- 
geoisie, being numerically much weaker than the proletariat, 
does not command the actual brute force to make revolution. 
At first the bourgeoisie, as planners of the overthrow, took 
control of the authority of the state and exercised it for 
their own ends. The proletariat, which had learned its own 
strength and resources in the revolutionary contests, used 
its power to compel a further development of the revolu- 
tion in a more radical direction and eventually compelled 
the first holders of authority to give way to a government 
more responsive to the demands of the lower classes. Thus 
the events of 1789 in Paris were followed by the victory of 
the Montane party, the events of September 4, 1870, by 
those of March 18, 1871, and the Kerensky revolution in 
Petrograd by the Bolshevik revolution of November, 191 7. 

The German revolution, however, alone among the great 
revolutions of the world, was, as has already been pointed 
out, both in its origins and execution, proletarian and So- 
cialistic. The bourgeoisie had no part in it and no participa- 
tion in the revolutionary government. Any attempt to de- 
velop the revolution further by overthrowing or opposing 
the first revolutionary government could therefore serve 
only factional and not class interests. Factional clashes were, 
of course, inevitable. The members of the Paris Commune 
split into four distinct factions, Jacobins, Blanquists, Proud- 
honists and a small group of Marxist Internationalists. But 
these, bitterly as they attacked each other's methods and 
views, nevertheless presented at all times a united front 
against the bourgeoisie, whereas the German Independent 
Socialists, from whom better things might have been ex- 
pected, almost from the beginning played into the hands of 
the Spartacans, from whom nothing good could have been 
expected, and thus seriously weakened the government and 
eventually made a violent second phase of the revolution 



If it be admitted that Socialist government was the proper 
form of government for Germany at this time, it is clear that 
the Independent Socialists had a very real mission. This 
was well expressed in the first month of the revolution in a 
pamphlet by Kautsky, in which he wrote : 

"The extremes (Majority Socialists and Spartacans) can 
best be described thus: the one side (Majority) has not yet 
completely freed itself from bourgeois habits of thought 
and still has much confidence in the bourgeois world, whose 
inner strength it overestimates. The other side (Spartacans) 
totally lacks all comprehension of the bourgeois world and 
regards it as a collection of scoundrels. It despises the mental 
and economic accomplishments of the bourgeoisie and be- 
lieves that the proletarians, without any special knowledge 
or any kind of training, are able to take over immediately 
all political and economic functions formerly exercised by 
the bourgeois authorities. 

"Between these two extremes we find those (the Inde- 
pendents) who have studied the bourgeois world and com- 
prehend it, who regard it objectively and critically, but who 
know how properly to value its accomplishments and realize 
the difficulties of replacing it with a better system. This 
Marxist center must, on the one hand, spur the timorous on 
and awaken the blindly confiding, and on the other, put a 
check upon the blind impetuosity of the ignorant and 
thoughtless. It has the double task of driving and applying 
the brakes. 

"These are the three tendencies that contend with each 
other within the ranks of the proletariat." 

Indications of the coming split with the cabinet were ob- 
servable even in the first week of the government's existence. 
Together with its decree dissolving the Diet, the cabinet 
announced that "the national government is engaged in 
making preparations for the summoning of a constituent 
assembly at the earliest possible moment." The overwhelm- 
ing majority of the German people already demanded the 
convening of such a body. Only the Spartacans, who had 
formally effected organization on November 14th, openly 
opposed it as a party, but there was much anti -assembly 



sentiment in Independent Socialist ranks, although the party 
had as yet taken no stand against it. Richard Miiller, the 
dangerous Independent Socialist demagogue at the head of 
the workmen's section of the Vollsugsrat, was one of the 
most rabid opponents of a national assembly and one of the 
men responsible for his party's subsequent opposition to it. 
Speaking at a meeting of the Vollzugsrat on November 1 9th 
he said : 

"There is a cry now for a national assembly. The purpose 
is plain. The plan is to use this assembly to rob the prole- 
tariat of its power and lay it back in the hands of the bour- 
geoisie. But it will not succeed. We want no democratic re- 
public. We want a social republic." 

Haase, speaking for the cabinet, cleverly avoided putting 
himself on record as to whether or not a national assembly 
would eventually be called. It could not be called together 
yet, he said, because preparations must first be made. Elec- 
tion lists must be drawn up and the soldiers in the field must 
have an opportunity to vote. Moreover, the soldiers, who had 
been "mentally befogged" by the pan-German propaganda 
at the front, must be "enlightened" before they could be 
permitted to vote. Large industries must also be socialized 
before time could be taken to summon a constituante. 

It soon became apparent that the work in the cabinet was 
not going smoothly. Ebert, Scheidemann and Landsberg, 
Socialists though they were, lacked any trace of that fanati- 
cism which marks so many Socialist leaders. They were 
sobered by their new responsibilities. Looked at from above, 
administrative problems presented a different picture from 
tiiat which they had when viewed from below by men whose 
chief role had been one of opposition and criticism. Sweep- 
ing socialization of all industries, regulation of wages and 
hours of work, the protection of society against criminals, 
the raising of revenue, the abolishing of capitalism and 
capitalists — these things were less simple than they had 
seemed. To socialize the administration of the state was not 
difficult, for that was a mechanism which had been built 
up. But society, as these novices in government now compre- 
hended more clearly than before, is an organism which has 



grown up. The product of centuries of growth cannot be 
recklessly made over in a few weeks. 

The Majority Socialist trio, realizing the impracticability 
of tearing down old institutions before there was something 
better to take their place, moved slowly in instituting re- 
forms. This was little to the liking of the radicals within and 
without the cabinet. Haase, politician before all else, and 
Dittmann, class-conscious fanatic, insisted on speedier re- 
forms along orthodox Socialist lines, and particularly on a 
far-reaching socialization of big industries. Nearly a year 
earlier Haase, Cohn and Ledebour, attending the notorious 
Joffe banquet, had approved Bolshevik attacks on the Ma- 
jority Socialists and excused the slow progress of the revo- 
lutionary propaganda by saying that "those — Eberts and 
Scheidemanns" could not be brought to see reason. It was 
hardly to be expected that the Independents would be mild- 
er now. The work of the cabinet was hampered already, 
although the Independent members kept up a pretense of 
working with the old party's representatives. 

Haase, Dittmann and Barth were supported by the Voll- 
zugsrat. This body, which had started out by ordering the 
restoration to their owners of the newspapers seized during 
the revolution, had so far faced about two days later that 
Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were able to exhibit to the 
publishers of the Lokal-Anzeiger an order from the Voll- 
zugsrat directing them to place their plant at the disposal 
of the Spartacans for the printing of Die rote Fahne, whose 
editor the Luxemburg woman was to be. The order did not 
even hint at any compensation for the publishers. Naturally 
tliey refused flatly to obey it, and the Greater Berlin Sol- 
diers' Council, still dominated by men of the better sort, 
meeting two days later, indignantly denounced the action 
of the Vollzugsrat and compelled the withdrawal of the 

Despite the fact that the Majority and Independent So- 
cialists were evenly represented on this council, the latter 
dominated it. Brutus Molkenbuhr, the Majority Socialist 
co-chairman with Richard Miiller was no match for his 
fanatic colleague, and most of the other members were 



nobodies of at most not more than average intelligence. A 
more poorly equipped body of men never ruled any great 
state, and whatever of good was accomplished by the cabinet 
in the first month of its existence was accomplished against 
the opposition of a majority of these men. Miiller's radical- 
ism grew daily greater. "The way to a national assembly 
must lead over my dead body" he declared in a speech filled 
with braggadocio, and his hearers applauded. 

The Soldiers' Council noted with increasing displeasure 
the drift of the Vollzugsrat toward the left. At the end of 
November, after a stormy session, the council adopted a 
resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the attitude of the 
Vollzugsrat and appointing one representative from each 
of the seven regiments stationed in Berlin to weigh charges 
against the executive council and, if necessary, to reform it. 
The resolution charged the Vollzugsrat with holding secret 
sessions, usurping powers, grafting, nepotism,^ failure to 
take steps to protect the country's eastern border against the 
aggressions of the Poles and hindering all practical work. 

The Independent Socialists' ascendancy in the executive 
body was assured on December 5th, when an election was 

^A long chapter could be written upon this subject alone. The trail of Ger- 
man revolutionary governments (but not the national cabinet) is slimy with 
graft, robbery and nepotism. Eichhorn, in the two months that he held the 
office of Berlin's Police President, made not a single one of the daily reports 
required of him and never accounted for moneys passing through his hands. 
Himself drawing salary from Rosta and also as police-president, he ap- 
pointed his wife to a highly paid clerkship and his young daughter drew a 
salary for receiving visitors. An Independent Socialist minister's wife drew 
a large salary for no services. The Vollzugsrat employed a hundred stenog- 
raphers and messengers who had nothing to do except draw their salaries. 
The 53er Ausschuss, a committee of marines and soldiers which took entire 
charge of the admiralty and conducted its affairs without any regard to the 
national government, voted itself sums larger than had been required to pay 
all the salaries of the whole department in other days. The police captain of a 
Berlin suburb, a youthful mechanic, received ninety marks a day, his wife 
was made a clerk at fifty marks, and he demanded and received an automobile 
for his private use. The first revolutionary military commandant of Munich 
tried to defraud a bank of 44,000 marks on worthless paper. The Vollzugsrat 
never made an honest accounting for the tremendous sums used by it. Hun- 
dreds of soldiers' and workmen's committees constituted themselves into 
Soviets in tiny villages and paid themselves daily salaries equaling the high- 
est weekly pay that any of them had ever earned. Robbery through official 
requisition became so common that the people had to be warned against 
honoring any requisitions, 



held to fill two vacancies among the soldier members. Two 
Independents were chosen, which gave that party sixteen 
of the council's twenty-eight members. 

Even by this time the shift of sentiment in the ranks of 
Independent Socialism had proceeded to a point where this 
party's continued ascendancy would have been as great a 
menace to democratic government as would Liebknecht's 
Spartacans. Adolph Hoffmann, the party's Prussian Minis- 
ter of Cults, openly declared that if an attempt were made to 
summon the national assembly it must never be permitted 
to meet, even if it had to be dispersed as the Russian Bol- 
sheviki dispersed the constituent assembly in Petrograd, and 
his pronouncement was hailed with delight by Die Freiheit, 
the party's official organ in Berlin, and by Independents 
generally. Emil Eichhorn, who was once one of the editors 
of Vorwdrts but now prominent in the Independent Social- 
ist party, and who had been appointed police-president of 
Berlin, was on the payroll of Rosta, the Russian telegraph 
agency which served as a central for the carrying on of 
Bolshevik propaganda in Germany. He did as much as any 
other man to make the subsequent fighting and bloodshed in 
Berlin possible by handing out arms and ammunition to 
Liebknecht's followers, and by dismissing from the city's 
Republican Guard — the soldier-policemen appointed to as- 
sist and control the policemen — men loyal to the new gov- 

The Spartacans were feverishly active. Liebknecht and 
his lieutenants organized and campaigned tirelessly. Der 
rote Soldatenbund (the Red Soldiers' League) was formed 
from deserters and criminals and armed with weapons fur- 
nished by Eichhorn from the police depots, stolen from gov- 
ernment stores or bought with money furnished by Russian 
agents. The funds received from this source were sufficient 
also to enable the Spartacan leaders to pay their armed 
supporters twenty marks a day, a sum which proved a great 
temptation to many of the city's unemployed whose suffer- 
ings had overcome their scruples. 

The first demonstration of strength by the Spartacans 
came on November 26th, when they forcibly seized the 



Piechatzek Crane Works and the Imperator Motor Com- 
pany, both big Berlin plants. Spartacan employees assisted 
Liebknecht's red soldiery to throw the management out. The 
funds and books of both plants were seized, soldiers re- 
mained in charge and plans were made to run the plants 
for the sole benefit of the workers. The cabinet ordered the 
plants restored to their owners, and the order was obeyed 
after it became apparent that the Vollzugsrat, although in 
sympathy with the usurpers, did not dare oppose the cabinet 
on such an issue. 

The openly revolutionary attitude of the Liebknecht co- 
horts and their insolent defiance of the government, resulted 
in armed guards being stationed in front of all public build- 
ings in Berlin. But here was again exhibited that peculiar 
unpractical kink in the Socialist mentality : the guards were 
directed not to shoot! 

The reason for the existence of this kink will be apparent 
to one who has read carefully the preceding chapters re- 
garding Socialism's origin and the passages therein report- 
ing the attitude of the two wings of the party in the Reichs- 
tag following Admiral von Capelle's charges in the autumn 
of 191 7. The first article in the Socialist creed is solidarity. 
"Proletarians of all lands: Unite!" cried Marx and Engels 
in their Communist Manifesto seven decades ago. The 
average Socialist brings to his party an almost religious 
faith ; for hundreds of thousands Socialism is their only re- 
ligion. All members of the party are their "comrades," the 
sheep of one fold, and their common enemies are the bour- 
geois elements of society, the wolves. Black sheep there may 
be in the fold, but they afe, after all, sheep, and like must not 
slaughter like, Genossen must not shoot Genossen. 

The supporters of the government were to learn later by 
bitter experience that some sheep are worse than wolves, 
but they had not yet learned it. Spartacans coolly disarmed 
the four guards placed at the old palace in Unter den Linden 
and stole their guns. They disarmed the guards at the 
Chancellor's Palace, the seat of the government, picked the 
pockets and stole the lunch of the man in charge of the 
machine-gun there, and took the machine-gun away in their 



automobile. They staged a demonstration against Otto Wels, 
a Majority Socialist who had been appointed city comman- 
dant, and had no difficulty in invading his private quarters 
because the guards posted in front had orders not to shoot 
and were simply brushed aside. When the demonstration 
was ended, the Spartacans proceeded on their way rejoic- 
ing, taking with them the arms of the government soldiers. 

The Spartacans were by this time well equipped with 
rifles, revolvers and ammunition, and had a large number 
of machine-guns. They secured one auto-truck full of these 
from the government arsenal at Spandau on a forged order. 
They even had a few light field guns and two or three mine- 
throwers. In the absence of any opposition except the futile 
denunciations of the bourgeois press and the Vorwdrts, their 
numbers were increasing daily and they were rapidly forti- 
fying themselves in various points of vantage. Neukolln, 
one of the cities making up Greater Berlin, was already 
completely in their power. The Workmen's and Soldiers' 
Council of this city consisted of seventy-eight men, all of 
whom were Spartacans. This council forcibly dissolved the 
old city council, drove the mayor from the city hall and con- 
stituted itself the sole legislative and administrative organ 
in the city. A decree was issued imposing special taxes 
upon all non-Socialist residents, and merchants were de- 
spoiled by requisitions enforced by armed hooligans. 

The "Council of Deserters, Stragglers and Furloughed 
Soldiers" announced a number of meetings for the after- 
noon of December 6th to enforce a demand for participa- 
tion in the government. The largest of these meetings was 
held in the Germania Hall in the Chausseestrasse, just above 
Invalidenstrasse and near the barracks of the Franzer, as 
the Kaiser Franz Regiment was popularly known. The main 
speaker was a man introduced as "Comrade Schultz," but 
whose Hebraic features indicated that this was a revolu- 
tionary pseudonym. He had hardly finished outlining the 
demands of "us deserters" when word came that the Voll- 
zugsrat had been arrested. It developed later that some mis- 
guided patriots of the old school had actually made an at- 
tempt to arrest the members of this council, which had de- 



veloped into such a hindrance to honest government, but 
the attempt failed. 

The report, however, threw the meeting into great ex- 
citement. A motion to adjourn and march to the Chancel- 
lor's Palace to protest against the supposed arrest was car- 
ried and the crowd started marching down Chausseestrasse, 
singing the laborers' Marseillaise. At the same time the 
crowd present at a similar meeting in a hall a few blocks 
away started marching up Chausseestrasse to join the Ger- 
mania Hall demonstrants. Both processions found their way 
blocked by a company of Franzer, drawn up in front of their 
barracks, standing at "ready" and with bayonets fixed. The 
officer in command ordered the paraders to stop : 

"Come on !" cried the leaders of the demonstration. "They 
won't shoot their comrades !" 

But the Franzer had not yet been "enlightened." A rat- 
tling volley rang out and the deserters, stragglers and fur- 
loughed paraders fled. Fifteen of them lay dead in the street 
and one young woman aboard a passing street car was also 

The incident aroused deep indignation not only among 
the Spartacans, but among the Independent Socialists as 
well. The bulk of the Independents were naturally excited 
over the killing of "comrades," and the leaders saw in it a 
welcome opportunity further to shake the authority of the 
Majority Socialist members of the government. Even the 
Vorwdrts, hesitating between love and duty, apologetically 
demanded an investigation. The government eventually 
shook off" all responsibility and it was placed on the shoul- 
ders of an over-zealous officer acting without instructions. 
This may have been — indeed, probably was — the case. The 
cabinet's record up to this time makes it highly improbable 
that any of its members had yet begun to understand that 
there are limits beyond which no government can with im- 
punity permit its authority to be flouted. 

The day following the shooting saw the first of those 
demonstrations that later became so common. Liebknecht 
summoned a meeting in the Siegesallee in the Tiergarten. 
Surrounded by motor-trucks carrying machine-guns manned 



by surly ruffians, he addressed the assembled thousands, 
attacking the government, demanding its forcible over- 
throw and summoning his hearers to organize a Red Guard. 
It is significant that, although actual adherents of Spar- 
tacus in Berlin could at this time be numbered in thousands, 
tens of thousands attended the meeting. Between the Spar- 
tacans and thousands of Independent Socialists of the rank 
and file there were already only tenuous dividing lines. 


The Majority Socialists in Control. 

THE Independent Socialist trio in the cabinet had 
been compelled to give up — at least outwardly — 
their opposition to the summoning of a national as- 
sembly. Popular sentiment too plainly demanded such a 
congress to make it possible to resist the demand. Also the 
Majority members of the cabinet had been strengthened by 
two occurrences early in December. Joffe, the former Russian 
Bolshevik ambassador, had published his charges against 
Haase, Barth and Cohn, and, although these were merely a 
confirmation of what was generally suspected or even defi- 
nitely known by many, they had an ugly look in the black 
and white of a printed page and found a temporary reaction 
which visibly shook the authority of these men who had ac- 
cepted foreign funds to overthrow their government. 

The other factor strengthening the hands of Ebert, 
Scheidemann* and Landsberg was the manner of the re- 
turn of the German front-soldiers. 

Gratifying reports had come of the conduct of these men 
on their homeward march. Where the soldiers of the etape 
had thrown discipline and honor to the winds and straggled 
home, a chaotic collection of looters, the men who, until 
noon on November nth, had kept up the unequal struggle 
against victorious armies, brought back with them some of 
the spirit that kept them at their hopeless posts. They 
marched in good order, singing the old songs, and scores of 
reports came of rough treatment meted out by them to mis- 
guided Genossen who tried to compel them to substitute the 
red flag for their national or state flags, or for their regi- 
mental banners. 



The first returning soldiers poured through the Brand- 
enburger Tor on December loth. A victorious army could 
not have comported itself differently. The imperial black- 
white-red, the black-and-white of Prussia, the white-and- 
blue of Bavaria and the flags of other states floated from the 
ranks of the veterans. Flowers decked their helmets. Flow- 
ers and evergreens covered gun-carriages and caissons, flow- 
ers peeped from the muzzles of the rifles. Women, children 
and old men trudged alongside, cheering, laughing, weep- 
ing. Time was for the moment rolled back. It was not De- 
cember, 1918, but August, 1914. 

The people greeted the troops as if they were a conquer- 
ing army. They jammed the broad Unter den Linden ; cheer- 
ing and handclapping were almost continuous. The red 
flags had disappeared from the buildings along the street 
and been replaced by the imperial or Prussian colors. Only 
the Kultusininisterium, presided over by Adolph Hoffmann, 
illiterate director of schools and atheistic master of churches, 
stayed red. The flag of revolution floated over it and a 
huge red carpet hung challengingly from a second-story 

It was evident on this first day, as also on the following 
days, that red doctrines had not yet destroyed discipline 
and order. The men marched with the cadenced step of 
veterans, their ranks were correctly aligned, their rifles 
snapped from hand to shoulder at the command of their 
oflficers. The bands blared national songs as the long lines 
of field-gray troops defiled through the central arch of the 
great gate, once sacredly reserved for the royal family. 

A hush fell on the waiting crowds. The soldiers' helmets 
came off. A massed band played softly and a chorus of 
school-children sang the old German anthem : 
Wie sie so sanft ruh'n, 
A He die Seligen, 
In ihren Grdhern. 

Ebert delivered the address of welcome, which was fol- 
lowed by three cheers for "the German Republic," It was no 
time for cheers for the "German Socialist Republic." The 
soldiers had not yet been "enlightened." 



The scenes of this first day were repeated on each day of 
the week. The self-respecting, sound attitude of the front- 
soldiers angered the Spartacans and Independents, but was 
hailed with delight by the great majority of the people. The 
Vollzugsratj resenting the fact that it had not been asked, as 
the real gov^erning body of Germany, to take part officially 
in welcoming the soldiers, sent one of its members to de- 
liver an address of welcome. He had hardly started when 
bands began to play, officers shouted out commands, the 
men's rifles sprang to their shoulders and they marched 
away, leaving him talking to an empty square. 

The six-man cabinet announced that a national assembly 
would be convened. The date tentatively fixed for the elec- 
tions was February 2d, which was a compromise, for the 
Majority Socialists wanted an earlier date, while the In- 
dependent trio desired April. It was announced also that a 
central congress of all Germany's workmen's and soldiers' 
councils had been summoned to meet in Berlin on Decem- 
ber 1 6th. This congress was to have power to fix the date for 
the national assembly and to make the necessary prepa- 

No definite rules were laid down covering the manner of 
choosing delegates to the congress. Despite the consequent 
possibility that the elections of delegates would be manipu- 
lated by the less scrupulous Spartacans and Independents, 
the congress chosen was a remarkably representative body. 
The numerical weakness of the two radical wings of So- 
cialism found striking illustration in the makeup of the con- 
gress. Of its total membership of some four hundred and 
fifty, the Spartacans and Independents together had only 
about forty delegates. That this accurately represented the 
proportionate strengths of the conservative and the radical 
camps was proved at the elections for the national assembly 
a month later, when the Independents, with four per cent 
of the total popular vote, again had one-eleventh of the Ma- 
jority Socialists' forty-four per cent. In considering the role 
played by the radicals in the second phase of the revolution 
it must be remembered that the majority of their strength lay 
in Berlin, where they eventually won a greater following 



than that of the old party. If Berlin and the free cities of 
Hamburg and Bremen could have been isolated from the 
empire and allowed to go their own way, ordered govern- 
ment in Germany would have come months sooner.^ 

The following account of the sessions of the central con- 
gress is copied from the author's diary of those days. There 
is nothing to add to or take from the estimates and com- 
ments set down at that time. 

"December i6th. The Central Congress of Germany's 
Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils convened today in the 
Abgeordnetenhaus (Prussian Diet). There are about four 
hundred and fifty delegates present, including two women. 
There is a fair sprinkling of intelligent faces in the crowd, 
and the average of intelligence and manners is far above that 
of the Berlin Soldiers' Council. None of the delegates keeps 
his hat on in the chamber and a few who have started smok- 
ing throw their cigars and cigarettes away at the request of 
the presiding officer, Leinert from Hanover, who was for 
some years a member of the Prussian Diet and is a man of 
ability and some parliamentary training. 

"After organization, which is effected with a show of 
parliamentary form, Richard Miiller, chairman of the exec- 
utive committee of the VoUzugsrat, mounts the speaker's 
tribune to give an extended report of the committee's ac- 
tivities. The report, which turns out to be really a defense of 
the committee, gets a cool reception. The VoUzugsrat has 
drifted steadily to the left ever since it was appointed, and 
is strongly Independent Socialist and Spartacan, and it is 
already evident that the Majority Socialists have an over- 
whelming majority in the Congress. 

"Chairman Leinert interrupts Miiller's speech with an 

^It is not merely in very recent times that the largest cities have become the 
strongholds of radicalism. In a session of the Prussian Diet on March 20, 
1852, a deputy charged the government with lack of confidence in the people. 
Bismarck replied : " The deputy having declared here that the government 
distrusts the people, I can say to him that it is true that I distrust the in- 
habitants of the larger cities so long as they let themselves be led by self- 
seeking and lying demagogues, but that I do not find the real people there. 
If the larger cities rise up again in rebellion, the real people will have ways 
of bringing them to obedience, even if these must include wiping them off the 
face of the earth." 



announcement that a Genosse has an important communi- 
cation to make. A man who declares that he speaks 'in the 
name of at least 250,000 of Berlin's proletariat, now as- 
sembled before this building,' reads a series of demands. 
The first, calling for the strengthening of the socialist re- 
public, is greeted with general applause, but then come the 
familiar Spartacan (Bolshevik) demands for the disarm- 
ing of the bourgeoisie, weaponing of 'the revolutionary 
proletariat,' formation of a Red Guard (loud cries of 
'No!'), and 'all power to remain in the hands of the work- 
men's and soldiers' councils.' In other words, the Russian 
Soviet republic. 

"A half dozen officer-delegates present join in the pro- 
tests against the demands. Loud cries of 'raus die Ojfiziere!' 
(out with the officers!) come from a little group of Spar- 
tacans and Independent Socialists at the right of the room. 
Order is finally restored and Miiller completes his defense 
of the Vollzugsrat. 

"A delegate moves that 'Comrades Liebknecht and Rosa 
Luxemburg be invited to attend the session as guests with 
advisory powers", in view of their great services to the revo- 
lution.'^ The motion is voted down, five to one. It is re- 
newed in the afternoon, but meets the same fate, after a 
turbulent scene in which the Spartacans and their Indepen- 
dent Socialist allies howl and shout insults at the top of 
their voices. 

"Liebknecht, who has entered the building while this 
was going on, addresses his followers in the street in front 
from the ledge of a third-story window. The '250,000 of 
Berlin's proletariat' prove to be about seven thousand, nearly 
half of them women and girls and a great majority of the 
rest down-at-the-heels youths. His speech is the usual Bol- 
shevik rodomontade, A middle-aged workman who leaves 
the crowd with me tells me : 

" 'Two-thirds of the people there are there because they 
have to come or lose their jobs. One has to eat, you know.' 

"I learned later in the day that many of the paraders had 

^Neither Liebknecht nor Luxemburg had been chosen as delegate, al- 
though desperate efforts were made to have them elected. 



been induced to attend by the representation that it was to 
be a demonstration in favor of the national assembly. It 
is also asserted that others were forced by Spartacans with 
drawn revolvers to leave their factories. 

"December 17th. The second day's session of the Con- 
gress was marked by a virulent attack on Ebert by Lede- 
bour, between whom and Liebknecht there is little differ- 
ence. The reception of his speech by the delegates again 
demonstrated that the Majority Socialists make up nine- 
tenths of the assembly. Barth also took it upon himself to 
attack Ebert and to disclose secrets of the inner workings 
of the cabinet. Ebert answered with an indignant protest 
against being thus attacked from the rear. Barth has the 
lowest mentality of all the six cabinet members, and I am 
informed on good authority that he has an unsavory record. 
His alleged offenses are of a nature regarded by advanced 
penologists as pathological rather than criminal, but how- 
ever that may be, he seems hardly fitted for participation 
in any governing body. 

"Liebknecht's followers staged another demonstration 
like that of yesterday. The Congress had decided that no 
outsiders should be permitted again to interrupt the pro- 
ceedings, but a delegation of some forty men and women 
from the Schwarzkopff, Knorr and other red factories, 
bearing banners inscribed with Bolshevik demands, insisted 
on entering and nobody dared oppose them. They filed on- 
to the platform and read their stock resolutions, cheered by 
the little group of their soul-brothers among the deputies 
and by fanatics in the public galleries. Beyond temporarily 
interrupting the proceedings of the Congress they accom- 
plished nothing. 

"The incompetence — to use no stronger word — of the 
Vollzugsrat was again demonstrated today, as well as its 
careless financial methods. 

"December i8th. A well-dressed German who stands be- 
side me in the diplomatic gallery insists on explaining to all 
occupants of the gallery that it is intolerable that the speaker 
now in the tribune should be permitted to speak of the late 
'revolt.' 'It was not a revolt; it was a revolution, and they 



ought to compel him to call it that,' he says. How typical 
of the mentality of a great number of the delegates them- 
selves! They have spent precious hours discussing Marx 
and Bebel and the brotherhood of man — which, however, 
appears to extend only to the proletariat — ^but only two or 
three clear heads have talked of practical things. The failure 
of the Socialists generally to realize that it is not now a 
question of doing what they would like to do, but what they 
must do, is extraordinary and amazing. One speaker has 
read nearly a chapter from one of Bebel's books. Only a- 
few leaders are clear-sighted enough to insist that it is more 
important just now to save Germany from disintegration 
and the German people from starvation than to impose the 
doctrines of internationalism upon a world not yet ready 
for them. The members of the average high school debat- 
ing club in any American city have a keener sense for prac- 
tical questions than has the great majority of this Con- 

"December 19th. The Congress tonight changed the date 
for the National Assembly from February i6th to January 
19th. Hardly forty of the delegates opposed the change. 
These forty — Independents and Spartacans — tried vainly 
to have a resolution passed committing Germany to the Rus- 
sian Soviet system, but the vast majority would have none of 
it. Haase spoke in favor of the National Assem;bly. If he 
maintains this course his cooperation with the three Major- 
ity members of the cabinet will be valuable, but he is a trim- 
mer and undependable. 

"The Congress was enabled by a bolt of the Independents 
to accomplish another valuable bit of work, viz., the ap- 
pointment of a new central Vollzugsrat made up entirely of 
Majority Socialists. It includes some excellent men, notably 
Cohen of Reuss, whose speech in advocacy of the National 
Assembly and of changing its date has been the most logi- 
cal and irrefutable speech made during the Congress, and 
Leinert, first chairman of the Congress. With the support 
of this new executive committee the cabinet will have no 

*This may appear to be an extravagant comparison, but it is so near the 
truth that I let it stand. 



excuse if it continues to shilly-shally along and fails to ex- 
hibit some backbone. 

"But I am apprehensive. A scraggly-bearded fanatic in 
one of the public galleries today repeatedly howled insults 
at Majority Socialist speakers, and, although repeated re- 
monstrances were made, nobody had enough energy or 
courage to throw him out. Leinert once threatened to clear 
the galleries if the demonstrations there were repeated. 
The spectators promptly responded with hoots, hisses and 
the shaking of fists, but the galleries were not cleared. 

"German government in miniature! The same mentality 
that places guards before public buildings and orders them 
not to use their weapons ! Sancta simplicitas!" 

It will be observed that the foregoing report, compara- 
tively lengthy though it is, fails to record an amount of 
legislative business commensurate with the length of the 
session. And yet there is little to add to it, for but two things 
of importance were done — the alteration of the date for 
holding the elections for the National Assembly and the 
appointment of the new Vollzugsrat. Outside this the ac- 
complishments of the Congress were mainly along the line 
of refusing to yield to Independent and Spartacan pressure 
designed to anchor the soviet scheme in the government. 
New light is thrown on the old Vollzugsrat by the fact that 
it had invited the Russian Government to send delegates 
to the Congress. The cabinet had learned of this in time, 
and a week before the Congress was to assemble it sent a 
wireless message to Petrograd, asking the government to 
abstain from sending delegates "in view of the present sit- 
uation in Germany." The Russians nevertheless tried to 
come, but were stopped at the frontier. 

The manner in which Haase and Dittmann had sup- 
ported their Majority Socialist colleagues in the cabinet by 
their speeches during the Congress had demonstrated that, 
while there were differences between the two groups, they 
were not insurmountable. The events of the week following 
the Congress of Soviets, however, altered the situation com- 

It has been related how, in the days preceding the actual 



revolution in Berlin, the so-called "People's Marine Divi- 
sion" had been summoned to the capital to protect the gov- 
ernment. It was quartered in the Royal Stables and the 
Royal Palace, and was entrusted with the custody of the 
Palace and its treasures. 

It speedily became apparent that a wolf had been placed 
in charge of the sheepfold. The division, which had origi- 
nally consisted of slightly more than six hundred men, 
gradually swelled to more than three thousand, despite the 
fact that no recruiting for it nor increase in its numbers had 
been authorized. A great part of the men performed no serv- 
ice whatever, terrorized inofFending people, and, as investi- 
gation by the Finance Ministry disclosed, stole everything 
movable in the Palace. 

The division demanded that it be permitted to increase 
its numbers to five thousand and that it be made a part of the 
Republican Soldier Guard in charge of the city's police serv- 
ice. This demand was refused by the City Commandant, 
Otto Wels, since the ranks of the Soldier Guard were al- 
ready full. A compromise was eventually reached by which 
those of the division who had formerly been employed on 
police duty and who were fathers of families and residents 
of Berlin, would be added to the police force if the Marine 
Division would surrender the keys to the Palace which it 
was looting. The Marines agreed to this, but failed to sur- 
render the keys. On December 2 1st a payment of eighty 
thousand marks was to be made to them for their supposed 
services. Wels refused to hand over the money until the keys 
to the Palace had been surrendered- 

Wels had incurred the deep hatred of the more radical 
elements of the capital by his sturdy opposition to lawless- 
ness. He was almost the only Majority Socialist function- 
ary who had displayed unbending energy in his efforts to 
uphold the authority of the government, and public 
demonstrations against him had already been held, in 
which he was classed with Ebert and Scheidemann as a 
"bloodhound." The leaders of the Marine Division decided 
reluctantly to give up the Palace keys, but they would not 
hand them over to the hated Wels. Early in the afternoon 



of December 23d they sought out Barth, the member of the 
cabinet who stood closest to them, and gave the keys to him. 
Barth telephoned to Wels that the keys had been surren- 
dered. Wels pointed out that Ebert was the member of the 
cabinet in charge of military affairs, and declared that he 
would pay out the eighty thousand marks only upon receipt 
of advices that the keys were in Ebert's possession. 

The delivery to Barth of the keys had been entrusted 
two marines who constituted the military post at the Chan- 
cellor's Palace. These men, informed of Wels's attitude, oc- 
cupied the telephone central in the palace, and informed 
Ebert and Landsberg that Dorrenbach, their commander, 
had ordered that no one be permitted to leave or enter the 
building. An hour later, at five-thirty o'clock, the Marines 
left the building, but in the evening the whole division ap- 
peared before the palace and occupied it. 

Government troops, summoned by telephone, also ap- 
peared, and an armed clash appeared imminent. Ebert, 
however, finally induced the Marines to leave on condition 
that the government troops also left. 

While this was going on, a detachment of Marines had 
entered Wels's office, compelled him at the point of their 
guns to pay out the eighty thousand marks due them, and 
had then marched him to the Royal Stables, where he was 
locked up in a cellar and threatened with death. Ebert, 
Scheidemann and Landsberg, without consulting their col- 
leagues, ordered the Minister of War to employ all force 
necessary for the release of Wels. At the last moment, how- 
ever, negotiations were entered into and Wels was released 
shortly after midnight on the Marines' terms. 

Spartacans and radical Independents took the part of the 
Marines. Richard Miiller, Ledebour, Daumig and other 
members of the defunct original Vollzugsrat were galvan- 
ized into new opposition. Ledebour's "Revolutionary Fore- 
men of Greater Berlin Industries" demanded the retire- 
ment of the Independent Socialist members of the cabinet, 
and the demand was approvingly published by Die Frei- 
heit, the party's official organ. The head and forefront of 
the Majority cabinet members' offending was their order to 



the War Minister to use force in upholding the govern- 
ment's authority, and radical revolutionists condemn force 
when it is employed against themselves. 

The position of Haase and Dittmann as party leaders 
was seriously shaken. The left wing of their party, led by 
Eichhorn and Ledebour, was on the point of disavowing 
them as leaders and even as members of the party. At the 
party's caucuses in Greater Berlin on December 26th, held 
to nominate candidates for delegates to the coming Na- 
tional Assembly, Ledebour refused to permit his name to be 
printed on the same ticket with Haase's, and Eichhorn se- 
cured 326 votes to 271 for the party's head. 

On the evening of the same day the Independents in the 
cabinet submitted eight formulated questions to the Voll- 
zugsrat, in which this body was asked to define its attitude as 
to various matters. The Vollzugsrat answered a majority 
of the questions in a sense favorable to the Independents. 
Its answer to one important question, however, gave the In- 
dependents the pretext for which they were looking. The 
question ran : 

"Does the Vollzugsrat approve that the cabinet members 
Ebert, Scheidemann and Lansberg on the night of Decem- 
ber 23d conferred upon the Minister of War the authority, 
in no manner limited, to employ military force against the 
People's Marine Division in the Palace and Stables?" 

The executive council's answer was : 

"The people's commissioners merely gave the order to 
do what was necessary to liberate Comrade Wels. Nor was 
this done until after the three commissioners had been ad- 
vised by telephone by the leader of the People's Marine Di- 
vision that he could not longer guarantee the life of Com- 
rade Wels. The Vollzugsrat approves." 

The Vollzugsrat itself presented a question. It asked : 

"Are the People's Commissioners prepared to protect 
public order and safety, and also and especially private and 
public property, against forcible attacks? Are they also pre- 
pared to use the powers at their disposal to prevent them- 
selves and their organs from being interfered with in their 
conduct of public affairs by acts of violence, irrespective of 
whence these may come?" 



The Independents, for whom Dittmann spoke, hereupon 
declared that they retired from the government. Thus they 
avoided the necessity of answering the Vollzugsrat's ques- 
tion. In a subsequent statement published in their press the 
trio declared that the Majority members were encouraging 
counter-revolution by refusing to check the power of the 
military. They themselves, they asserted, were a short while 
earlier in a position to take over the government alone, 
but they could not do so since their principles did not per- 
mit them to work with a Majority Socialist Vollzugsrat. 
What they meant by saying that they could have assumed 
complete control of the cabinet was not explained, and it was 
probably an over-optimistic statement. There is no reason to 
believe that the Independents had up to this time been in a 
position enabling them to throw the Majority Socialists out 
of the cabinet. 

Ebert, Scheidemann and Landsberg, in a manifesto "to 
the people, declared that the Independents had, by their 
resignations, refused to take a stand in favor of assuring 
the safety of the state. The manifesto said : 

"By rejecting the means of assuring the state's safety, 
the Independents have demonstrated their incapacity to 
govern. For us the revolution is not a party watchword, but 
the most valuable possession of the whole wealth-produc- 
ing folk. 

"We take over their tasks as people's commissioners with 
the oath : All for the revolution, all through the revolution. 
But we take them over at the same time with the firm pur- 
pose to oppose immovably all who would convert the revo- 
lution of the people into terror by a minority." 

The Vollzugsrat elected to fill the three vacancies : Gus- 
tav Noske, still governor of Kiel : Herr Wissell, a member 
of the old Reichstag, and Herr Loebe, editor of the Social- 
ist Volkswacht of Breslau. Loebe, however, never assumed 
office, and the cabinet consisted of five members until it was 
abolished by act of the National Assembly in February. 

The Majority Socialists staged a big demonstration on 
Sunday, December 29th, in favor of the new government. 
Thousands of the bourgeoisie joined in a great parade, 



which ended with a tremendous assembly in front of the 
government offices in the Wilhelmstrasse. The size and 
character of the demonstration showed that the great ma- 
jority of Berlin's law-abiding residents were on the side 
of Ebert and his colleagues. 

The Majority Socialists did not take over the sole re- 
sponsibility for the government with a light heart. They 
had begun to realize something of the character of the forces 
working against them and were saddened because they had 
been compelled to abandon party traditions by relying upon 
armed force. Yet there was clearly no way of avoiding it. 
The Spartacans were organizing their cohorts in Bremen, 
Hamburg, Kiel and other cities, and had already seized the 
government of Diisseldorf, where they had dissolved the 
city council and arrested Mayor Oehler. The Soviets of 
Solingen and Remscheid had accepted the Spartacan pro- 
gram by a heavy majority. The state government of Bruns- 
wick had adopted resolutions declaring that the National 
Assembly could not be permitted to meet. At a meeting of 
the Munich Communists Emil Miihsam^ had been greeted 
with applause when he declared that the summons for the 
assembly was "the common battle-cry of reaction." Resolu- 
tions were passed favoring the nullification of all war-loans.^ 

The Spartacans (on December 30th) had reorganized as 
the "Communist Laborers' Party of Germany — Spartacus 
League." Radek-Sobelsohn, who had for some weeks 
been carrying on his Bolshevik propaganda from various 
hiding places, attended the meeting and made a speech in 
which he declared that the Spartacans must not let them- 
selves be frightened by the fear of civil war. Rosa Luxem- 
burg openly summoned her hearers to battle. 

The authority of the national government was small in 
any event, and was openly flouted and opposed in some 

^Miihsam was one of the characteristic types of Bolsheviki. For years he 
had been an unwashed, unshorn and unshaven literary loafer in Berlin cafes, 
whose chief ability consisted in securing a following of naive persons willing 
to buy drinks for him. 

'The left wing of the Independent Socialist Party already demanded nul- 
lification, and the whole party drifted so rapidly leftward that a platform 
adopted by it in the first week of the following March definitely demanded 



places. Sailors and marines had organized the Republic of 
Oldenburg-East Frisia and elected an unlettered sailor 
named Bernhard Kuhnt as president. The president of the 
Republic of Brunswick was a bushelman tailor named Leo 
Merges, and the minister of education was a woman who 
had been a charwoman and had been discharged by a 
woman's club for which she had worked for petty peculations. 
Kurt Eisner, minister-president of Bavaria, was a dreamy, 
long-haired Communist writer who had earlier had to leave 
the editorial staff of Vorwdrts because of an utter lack of 
practical common-sense. He was a fair poet and an excel- 
lent feuilletonist, but quite unfitted to participate in govern- 
mental affairs. His opposition to the national government 
severely handicapped it, and the Bavarian state government 
was at the same time crippled by the natural antagonism of 
a predominantly Catholic people to a Jewish president. 

To the south the Czechs had occupied Bodenbach and 
Tetschen in German Bohemia, and were threatening the 
border. To the east the Poles, unwilling to await the awards 
of the peace conference, had seized the city of Posen, were 
taxing the German residents there for the maintenance of 
an army to be used against their own government, and had 
given notice that a war loan was to be issued. Paderewski, 
head of the new Polish Government, had been permitted to 
land at Danzig on the promise that he would proceed di- 
rectly to Warsaw. Instead, he went to Posen and made in- 
flammatory speeches against the Germans until the Eng- 
lish officer accompanying him was directed by the British 
Government to see that the terms of the promise to the Ger- 
man government were obeyed. The German Government, en- 
deavoring to assemble and transport sufficient forces to repel 
Polish aggressions against German territory, found opposi- 
tion among the Spartacans and Independent Socialists at 
home, and from the Bolshevik Brunswick authorities, who 
announced that no government troops would be permitted to 
pass through the state, or to be recruited there. Government 
troops entering Brunswick were disarmed. The state gov- 
ernment gave the Berlin cabinet notice that decrees of the 



Minister of War had no validity in Brunswick. General 
Scheuch, the Minister of War, resigned in disgust. 

What later became an epidemic of strikes began. Seventy 
thousand workers were idle in Berlin. Upper Silesia re- 
ported serious labor troubles throughout the mining dis- 
tricts, due to Russian and German Bolshevist agitators and 

A less happy New Year for men responsible for the af- 
fairs of a great state was doubtless never recorded. 



Liebknecht Tries to Overthrow the 
Government; Is Arrested and Killed. 

IN the six weeks that Emil Eichhorn had been Police- 
President of Berlin the situation in his department had 
become a public scandal. The arming of the criminal and 
hooligan classes by this guardian of public safety, which 
had at first been carried on quietly, was now being done 
openly and shamelessly, and had reached great propor- 
tions. Liebknecht and Ledebour, Spartacan and Independ- 
ent, were in constant and close fellowship with him. A con- 
siderable part of the Republican Soldier Guard had been 
turned from allegiance to the government that had appointed 
them and could be reckoned as adherents of Eichhorn. The 
Berlin police department had become an imperium in 

The Vollzugsrat conducted a formal investigation of 
Eichhorn's official acts. The investigation, which was con- 
ducted honestly and with dignity, convicted the Police- 
President of gross inefficiency, insubordination, diversion 
and conversion of public funds, and conduct designed to 
weaken and eventually overthrow the government. Vor- 
wdrts was able to disclose the further fact that Eichhorn 
had throughout his term of office been drawing a salary of 
1, 800 marks monthly from Lenine's Rosta, the Bolshevik 
propaganda-central for Germany. The Vollzugsrat removed 
Eichhorn from office. 

Eichhorn, relying on the armed forces at his disposal and 
doubtless equally on the probability that a Socialist govern- 
ment would not dare use actual force against Genossen, re- 



fused to comply with the order for his removal. The more 
ignorant of his followers — and this embraced a great pro- 
portion — saw in the Vollzugsrat's action the first move in 
that counter-revolution whose specter had so artfully been 
kept before their eyes by their leaders. 

It is a current saying in England that when an English- 
man has a grievance, he writes to the Times about it. When 
a German has a grievance, he organizes a parade and 
marches through the city carrying banners and transpar- 
encies, and shouting hoch! (hurrah!) for his friends and 
nieder! (down) with his enemies. On Sunday, January 5th, 
a great demonstration was staged as a protest against Eich- 
horn's removal. It is significant that, although Eichhorn 
was an Independent Socialist, the moving spirit and chief 
orator of the day was the Spartacan Liebknecht. This, too, 
despite the fact that at the convention where the Spartacus 
League had been reorganized a week earlier, the Independ- 
ents had been roundly denounced as timorous individuals 
and enemies of Simon-Pure Socialism. Similar denunciations 
of the Spartacans had come from the Independents. The psy- 
chology of it all is puzzling, and the author contents him- 
self with recording the facts without attempting to explain 

Sunday's parade was of imposing proportions, and it was 
marked by a grim earnestness that foreboded trouble. The 
organizers claimed that 150,000 persons were in the line of 
march. The real number was probably around twenty thou- 
sand. Transparencies bore defiant inscriptions, "Down with 
Ebert and Scheidemann, the Bloodhounds and Grave-dig- 
gers of the Revolution !" was a favorite device. "Down with 
the Bloodhound Wels !" was another. Cheers for "our Po- 
lice-President" and groans for the cabinet were continuous 
along the line of march. The great mass of the paraders 
were ragged, underfed, miserable men and women, mute 
testimony to the sufferings of the war-years. 

Liebknecht addressed the paraders. Counter-revolution, 
he declared, was already showing its head. The Ebert- 
Scheidemann government must be overthrown and the real 



friends of the revolution must not shrink from using vio- 
lence if violence were necessary. Others spoke in a similar 

Conditions appeared propitious for the coup that had been 
preparing for a month. Late Sunday evening armed Spar- 
tacans occupied the plants of the Vorwdrts, Tagehlatt, 
the Ullstein Company (publishers of Die Morgenpost and 
Berliner Z,eiUing-am-Mittag) , the Lokal-Anzeiger and the 
Wolff Bureau. 

The Spartacans in the Vorwdrts plant published on Mon- 
day morning Der rote Vorwdrts (the Red Vorwdrts"). It 
contained a boastful leading article announcing that the 
paper had been taken over by "real revolutionists," and that 
"no power on earth shall take it from us." The Liebknecht- 
ians also seized on Monday the Buxenstein plant, where 
the Kreuz-Zeitung is printed. There was much promiscuous 
shooting in various parts of the city. Spartacans fired on 
unarmed government supporters in front of the war minis- 
try, killing one man and wounding two. There were also 
bloody clashes at Wilhelm Platz, Potsdamer Platz and in 
Unter den Linden. 

The Vollzugsrat rose to the occasion like a bourgeois 
governing body. It conferred extraordinary powers on the 
cabinet and authorized it to use all force at its disposal to 
put down the Bolshevist uprising. That it was Bolshevist 
was now apparent to everybody. The cabinet, still hesitant 
about firing on Genossen, conferred with the Independents 
Haase, Dittmann, Cohn and Dr. Rudolf Breitscheid, the 
last named one of the so-called "intellectual leaders" of the 
Independent Socialists. These men wanted the government 
to "compromise." The cabinet declared it could listen to no 
proposals until the occupied newspaper plants should have 
been restored to their rightful owners. The delegation with- 
drew to confer with the Spartacan leaders. These refused 
flatly to surrender their usurped strongholds. 

Several lively street battles marked the course of Tuesday, 
January 7th. The Spartacans succeeded in driving the gov- 
ernment troops from the Brandenburger Tor, but after a 
short time were in turn driven out. Spartacan and Independ- 



ent Socialist parades filled the streets of the old city. The 
government did nothing to stop these demonstrations. 
Haase and the other members of Monday's delegation spent 
most of the day trying to induce the government to com- 
promise. Their ingenious idea of a "compromise" was for 
the entire cabinet to resign and be replaced by a "parity" 
government made up of two Majority Socialists, two In- 
dependents and two Spartacans. This, of course, would have 
meant in effect a government of four Bolsheviki and two 
Majority Socialists. Despite their traditions of and train- 
ing in party "solidarity," the cabinet could not help seeing 
that the "compromise" proposed would mean handing the 
government over bodily to Liebknecht, for Haase and Ditt- 
mann had long lost all power to lead their former follow- 
ers back into democratic paths. The bulk of the party was 
already irrevocably committed to practical Bolshevism. 
The scholarly Eduard Bernstein, who had followed Haase 
and the other seceders from the Majority Socialists in 1916, 
had announced his return to the parent party. In a long ex- 
planation of the reasons for his course he denounced the In- 
dependents as lacking any constructive program and with 
having departed from their real mission. They had become, 
he declared, a party committed to tearing down existing in- 
stitutions. Other adherents of the party's right wing refused 
to have anything to do with the new course. 

The night of January 7th was marked by hard fighting. 
Spartacans repeatedly attacked government troops at the 
Anhalt Railway Station in the Koniggratzerstrasse, but 
were repulsed with heavy losses. They also attacked the 
government troops defending the Potsdam Railway Station, 
a quarter of a mile north from the Anhalt Station, but were 
also repulsed there. Government soldiers, however, had con- 
siderable losses in an unsuccessful attempt to retake the 
Wolff Bureau building at Charlottenstrasse and Zimmer- 
strasse. On Wednesday, the section of the city around the 
Brandenburger Tor was again filled with parading Bol- 
sheviki, but the government had plucked up enough courage 
and decision to decree that no parades should be permitted 
to enter Wilhelmstrasse, where the seat of government is 



situated. Spartacans attempted to invade this street in the 
afternoon, but scattered when government soldiers fired a 
few shots, although the soldiers fired into the air. The In- 
dependent go-betweens again assailed the cabinet in an ef- 
fort to secure the "compromise" government suggested the 
day before. The delegation was hampered, however, both 
by the fact that the cabinet realized what such a compro- 
mise would mean and by the fact that the Independents could 
promise nothing. The Spartacans stubbornly refused to sur- 
render the captured newspaper plants, and the Independ- 
ents themselves were committed to the retention in office 
of Eichhorn. 

Eichhorn, still at his desk in Police Headquarters, re- 
fused even to admit to the building Police-President Rich- 
ter of Charlottenburg, who had been nsimed as his succes- 
sor, and he and his aides were still busily arming deluded 
workingmen and young hooligans of sixteen and seventeen, 
as well as some women. The People's Marine Division an- 
nounced that it sided with the government, but it played 
little part in its defense. 

The rattle of machine-guns and the crack of rifles kept 
Berliners awake nearly all night. The hardest fighting was 
at the Tageblatt plant, in front of the Foreign Office and 
the Chancellor's Palace, and around the Brandenburger Tor. 
Thursday morning found the government decided to put 
an end to the unbearable conditions. It was announced that 
no parades would be tolerated and that government sol- 
diers had been ordered to shoot to kill if any such aggrega- 
tions disobeyed orders to disperse. Spartacus, realizing that 
the government meant what it said, called no meetings, and 
the streets were free of howling demonstrants for the first 
time since Sunday. 

The government further addressed a proclamation to the 
people, addressing them this time as Mitbiirger (fellow-citi- 
zens), instead of Genossen. It announced that negotiations 
had been broken off with the rebels, and assailed the dis- 
honest and dishonorable tactics of the Independent Social- 
ists represented by the Haase-Dittmann delegation. Die 
Freiheit and Der rote Vorwdrts assailed the government; 



still the proclamation had a good effect and decent elements 
generally rallied to the government's support. The day's 
fighting was confined to the Tageblatt plant, where three 
hundred Bolsheviki were entrenched to defend the liberty of 
other people's property. The place could have been taken 
with artillery, but it was desired to spare the building if 

Friday passed with only scattered sniping. The Spar- 
tacans and their Independent helpers grew boastful. They 
had not yet learned to know what manner of man Gustav 
Noske, the new cabinet member, was.' They made his ac- 
quaintance early Saturday morning. Before the sun had risen 
government troops had posted themselves with artillery and 
mine-throwers a few hundred yards from the Vorwdrts 
plant. The battle was short and decisive. A single mine 
swept out of existence the Spartacans' barricade in front of 
the building, and a few more shots made the building ripe 
for storm. The government troops lost only two or three 
men, but more than a score of Bolsheviki were killed and 
more than a hundred, including some Russians and women, 
were captured. The Vorwdrts plant was a new building and 
much more valuable than some of the other plants occupied 
by the Spartacans, but it was selected for bombardment 
because the cabinet members wished to show, by sacrificing 
their own party's property first, that they were not playing 

The fall of the Vorwdrts stronghold and the firm stand 
of the government disheartened the mercenary and crimi- 
nal recruits of the Spartacans. Police Headquarters, the 
real center of the revolutionary movement, was taken early 
Sunday morning after a few 10.5 -centimeter shells had been 
fired into it. The official report told of twelve Spartacans 
killed, but their casualties were actually much higher. Eich- 
horn had chosen the better part of valor and disappeared. 
The Bolsheviki occupying the various newspaper plants be- 
gan deserting en masse over neighboring roofs and the 
plants were occupied by government troops without a con- 
test. News came that Liebknecht's followers had also aban- 
doned the Boetzow Brewery in the eastern part of the city, 



one of their main strongholds. Late in the afternoon they 
also fled from the Silesian Railway Station, where they had 
been storing up stolen provisions, assembling arms and am- 
munition and preparing to make a last desperate stand. 

The government, averse though it was to the employment 
of force to maintain its authority, had realized at the be- 
ginning of December the increasing strength of the Spar- 
tacans, and had begun assembling a military force of loyal 
soldiers in various garrisons outside the city. Three thou- 
sand of these troops now marched into the city. Hundreds of 
the men in the ranks carried rifles slung across officers' 
shoulder-straps. They marched as troops ought to march, 
sang patriotic songs and looked grimly determined. For 
miles along their route they were greeted by frantic cheer- 
ing and even by joyous tears from the law-abiding citizens 
who had been terrorized by the scum of a great capital.-^ 

'The task of the government was made harder throughout its darkest days 
by the aid and comfort given its enemies by the character of the reports pub- 
lished in certain enemy papers regarding conditions in Germany. Nearly the 
entire Paris press regularly published extravagantly untrue reports con- 
cerning the situation, and many English and American papers followed suit. 
The London Times of December loth gravely told its readers that "in a 
political sense Ebert is suspected of being a mere tool of the old regime, 
whose difficult task it is to pave the first stages of the road to the restoration 
of the HohenzoUerns months or years hence." Three days later it declared 
that " the German army chiefs propose to let the Spartacans upset the govern- 
ment so that they can summon Hindenburg to save the day and reestablish 
the monarchy." Articles of this stamp were eagerly pounced upon and re- 
published by Independent Socialist and Spartacan organs of the stamp of 
Die Freiheit, Die Republik, Liebknecht's Die rote Fahne, and others, and 
were of great assistance to the enemies of good government in their efforts 
to convince the ignorant and fanatical that the government was organizing 
a "white guard" for counter-revolutionary purposes and was plotting the 
restoration of the monarchy. One dispatch from Paris, published extensively 
in the American press on February 26th, quoted in all seriousness " a promi- 
nent American Socialist in close touch with German Liberals and with ex- 
ceptional sources of secret information," who had learned that " the German 
revolution was a piece of theatrical manipulation by agents of the militaristic 
oligarchy to win an armistice." That such a report could be published in re- 
sponsible organs is a staggering commentary on the manner in which the 
war-psychosis inhibited clear thinking. The Conservative Deputy Hergt, 
speaking in the Prussian Diet on March isth, said: "We Conservatives are 
not conscienceless enough to plunge the land into civil warfare. We shall 
wait patiently until the sound sense of the German people shall demand a 
return to the monarchic form of government." American papers carried the 
following report of this statement : " Speaking before the new Prussian Diet 
in Berlin, Deputy Hergt proposed that Prussia should restore the monarchy." 
Volumes could be written about these false reports alone. 



The week of terror had practically ended. There was still 
some sniping from housetops and some looting, but organ- 
ized resistance had been crushed. Liebknecht and Rosa Lux- 
emburg had gone into hiding. Liebknecht's seventeen-year- 
old son and sister had been arrested. Ledebour, more cou- 
rageous or, perhaps, more confident that a veteran Genosse 
had nothing to fear from a Socialist government, remained 
and was arrested. 

It had been no part of the cabinet's plan or desire to have 
their veteran colleague of former days arrested. On Jan- 
uary 1 2th the writer, speaking with one of the most promi- 
nent Majority Socialist leaders, said : 

"You can now hardly avoid having Ledebour locked up." 

The man addressed shrugged his shoulders reflectively 
and answered : 

"Well, you see, Herr Kollege, we can't very well do so. 
Ledebour is an old comrade, he was for many years one of 
the party's secretaries and has done great services for the 

"But he has taken part in an armed uprising to over- 
throw the government and to destroy that same party," 
persisted the writer. The Socialist leader admitted it. 

"But he is acting from ideal motives," he said. 

This refusal to judge opponents by their acts but rather 
by their motives hampered the government throughout its 
career. It is less specifically Socialistic than German, and 
is the outgrowth of what is termed Rechthaherei in German 
an untranslatable word exactly illustrated by the colloquy 
reported above. It is not the least among the mental traits 
that make it impossible for the average German ever to be- 
come what is popularly known as a practical politician ; a 
trait that kept the German people in their condition of politi- 
cal immaturity. 

In Ledebour's case, however, the government found it- 
self compelled to act drastically. A proclamation was found 
which declared the government deposed and taken over 
temporarily by the three men who signed it. These were 
Liebknecht, Ledebour and another Independent Socialist 
named Scholtze. In the first days of the uprising they had 



sent a detachment of Spartacans to the War Ministry to pre- 
sent the proclamation and take charge of that department's 
affairs, and only the presence of mind and courage of a 
young officer had prevented the scheme from succeeding. 
In the face of this, no government that demanded respect 
for its authority could permit Ledebour to remain at liberty. 
His arrest was nevertheless the signal for some adverse crit- 
icism even from Majority Socialists whose class-conscious 
solidarity was greater than their intelligence. 

Liebknecht was still in hiding, but it was less easy to 
hide in Berlin than it had been a month earlier, for the old 
criminal police were at work again. The experiment with 
soldier-policemen had resulted so disastrously that every 
Berliner who had anything to lose welcomed the return of 
these men who had been so denounced and hated in other 
days. The search lasted but two days. On January 15th 
Liebknecht's apartment was searched, and great amounts 
of propagandist pamphlets and correspondence showing 
him to be in constant touch with the Russian Soviet Govern- 
ment were found. On the evening of the next day policemen 
and soldiers surrounded the house of a distant relative of 
Liebknecht's wife in the western part of the city and Lieb- 
knecht was found. He denied his identity at first, but finally 
admitted that he was the man wanted. 

He was taken to the Eden Hotel in Charlottenburg, which 
had been occupied in part by the staff of the government 
troops. Rosa Luxemburg, found hiding in another house, 
was brought to the hotel at the same time. After the two 
had been questioned, preparations were made to take them 
to the city prison in Moabit. 

Despite all precautions, news of the arrests had transpired, 
and the hotel was surrounded by a vast crowd, mainly made 
up of better class citizens, since the district where the hotel 
is situated is one of the best residential districts of Greater 
Berlin. The feeling of these people against the two persons 
who were in so great measure responsible for the terrors of 
the week just past naturally ran high. The appearance of the 
soldiers guarding the two was the signal for a wild rush. 



The Luxemburg woman was struck repeatedly and Lieb- 
knecht received a blow on the head which caused a bloody 

Neither the man nor woman ever reached prison. Sol- 
diers brought to the morgue late that night the body of "an 
unidentified man," alleged to have been shot while running 
away from his guards. One bullet had struck him between 
the shoulders and another in the middle of the back of the 
neck. The woman disappeared utterly. 

On the following day (January i6th) it became known 
that both Liebknecht and Luxemburg had been killed. Ex- 
actly who fired the fatal shots was never clearly established, 
but an investigation did establish that the officers in charge 
of the men guarding the two prisoners were guilty of a neg- 
ligence which was undoubtedly deliberate, and intended 
to make the killings possible. 

The impression was profound. The Deutsche Tageszeit- 
ung, while deploring lynch law and summary justice, de- 
clared that the deaths of the two agitators must be regarded 
as "almost a Divine judgment." This was the tenor of all 
bourgeois comment, and even Vorwdrts admitted that the 
dead man and woman had fallen as victims of the base pas- 
sions which they themselves had aroused. They had sum- 
moned up spirits which they could not exorcise. There was 
nevertheless much apprehension regarding the form which 
the vengeance of the victims' followers might take, but this 
confined itself in the main to verbal attacks on the bour- 
geoisie and Majority Socialists, and denunciation of Noske's 
"White Guard," as the loyal soldiers who protected the law- 
abiding part of the population were termed. Disorders were 
feared on the day of Liebknecht's funeral, but none came. 

The government gained a much needed breathing spell 
through these events. With Liebknecht and Luxemburg 
dead, Radek in hiding, Ledebour locked up and Eichhorn 
— as it transpired later — fled to Brunswick, the Spartacans, 
deprived of their most energetic leaders and shaken by their 
bloody losses of Bolshevik week, could not so quickly rally 
their forces for another coup. Their losses are not definitely 
known, but they were estimated at approximately two hun- 



dred dead and nearly a thousand wounded. The losses of the 
government troops were negligible. 

Noske, who had taken over from Ebert the administra- 
tion of military affairs, announced that there would be no 
further temporizing with persons endeavoring to overthrow 
the government by force. He issued a decree setting forth 
the duty of the soldiers to preserve order, protect property 
and defend themselves in all circumstances. 

The decree said further: 

*'No soldier can be excused for failure to perform his 
duty if he have not, in the cases specified above, made timely 
and adequate use of his weapons to attain the purpose set 

Some six years earlier Police-President von Jagow had 
brought a flood of Socialist abuse on his head because, in a 
general order to the police, he referred to the fact that there 
had been an unusual number of escapes of criminals and at- 
tacks on policemen and added: "Henceforth I shall punish 
any policeman who in such case has failed to make timely 
use of his weapons." And now a Socialist issued an order of 
much the same tenor. The Genossen had learned by bitter 
experience that there is a difference between criticizing and 
governing, and that moral suasion occasionally fails with 
the lowest elements of a great city. 

Defeated in Berlin, the Bolsheviki turned their attention 
to the coast cities. The "Republic of Cuxhaven" was pro- 
claimed, with a school-teacher as president. It collapsed in 
five days as a result of the government's decisive action. An 
attempted coup in Bremen also failed, but both these upris- 
ings left the Spartacans and Independents of these cities in 
possession of large supplies of arms and ammunition. 

January i8th, the forty-seventh anniversary of the 
founding of the German Empire, brought melancholy re- 
flections for all Germans. The Bolshevist-hued Socialists 
were impotently raging in defeat; the bourgeoisie la- 
mented past glories; the Majority Socialists were under a 
crossfire from both sides. The Conservative Kreuz-Zeitung 
wrote : 

"January i8th: What feelings are awakened on this day 



under prevailing conditions ! In other times we celebrated 
today the Empire's glory, its resurrection from impotence 
and dissension to unity and strength. We believed its ex- 
istence and power assured for centuries. And today? After 
less than half a century the old misery has come upon us and 
has cast us down lower than ever. This time, too, Germany 
could be conquered only because it was disunited. In the 
last analysis it was from the Social-Democratic poison of 
Internationalism and negation of state that the Empire be- 
came infected and defenseless. How painfully wrong were 
those who, in smiling optimism, ever made light of all warn- 
ings against the Social-Democratic danger. It will be our 
real danger in the future also. If we do not overcome the 
Social- Democratic spirit among our people we cannot re- 
cover our health." 

The Kreuz-Zeitung's diagnosis was correct, but it had 
required a national post-mortem to establish it. 



The National Assembly. 

IN preparation for the National Assembly, the various ex- 
isting political parties effected generally a sweeping rer- 
organization, which included, for the most part, changes 
of designations as well. The Conservatives and Free Con- 
servatives coalesced as The German National People's Party 
{Deiitsch-nationale Volkspartei) .The right wing of the Na- 
tional-Liberals, under the leadership of Dr. Stresemann, 
became the German People's Party {Deutsche Volkspartei). 
The left wing of the old party, under the leadership of 
Baron von Richthofen joined with the former Progressives 
{Fortschrittliche Volkspartei) to form the German Demo- 
cratic Party {Deutsch-demokratische Partei) . The Clericals 
retained their party solidarity but christened themselves 
German Christian Party {Deutsch-Christliche Partei). The 
Majority and Independent Socialists retained their old or- 
ganizations and party designations. The Spartacans, as out- 
spoken enemies of any national assembly, could not consist- 
ently have anything to do with it and placed no ticket in 
the field. Most of the Independent Socialists were also op- 
ponents of a constituent assembly, but the party organization 
was still trying to blow both hot and cold and had not yet 
gone on record officially as favoring a soviet government and 
the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

Of the parties as reorganized, the National People's and 
the People's parties were monarchic. The Christian Party 
(Clericals) contained many men who believed a limited 
monarchy to be the best form of government for Germany, 
but as a whole the party was democratically inclined and 
out of sympathy with any attempt at that time to restore the 



monarchy. The two Socialist parties were, of course, advo- 
cates of a republic and bitter opponents of monarchs and 

The Democratic Party came into existence mainly 
through the efforts of Theodor Wolff, the brilliant editor 
of the Berlin Tageblatt. No other non-Socialist editor re- 
alized so early or so completely as Wolff whither the policy 
of the old government was taking Germany. He had op- 
posed the submarine warfare, condemned the treaty of 
Brest- Li to vsk, attacked the methods and influence of the 
pan-Germans and constantly advocated drastic democratic 
reforms. Probably no other bourgeois newspaper had been 
so often suppressed as the Tageblatt, and it shared with So- 
cialist organs the distinction of being prohibited in many 
army units and in some military departments at home. Al- 
though Wolff held no political office, his influence in the 
Progressive Party and with the left wing of the National- 
Liberals was great, and even many Socialists regularly read 
his leading articles, which were more often cabled to Amer- 
ica than were the editorials of any other German publicist, 
not excepting even the poseur Maximilian Harden-Wit- 

The revolution was hardly an accomplished fact before 
Wolff saw the necessity for a democratic, non-Socialist po- 
litical party which must be free of elements compromised 
in any manner by participation in the old government or by 
support of its militaristic and imperialistic policies. He took 
it upon himself to issue the summons for the formation of 
such a party. The response was immediate and gratifying. 
Help came even from unexpected quarters. Prince Lich- 
nowsky, former Ambassador to Great Britain ; Count Brock- 
dorff-Rantzau, who had succeeded Dr. Solf as Foreign Min- 
ister; Baron von Richthofen of the National-Liberals, 
Count Johannes Bernstorff, former Ambassador to the 
United States, and many other prominent members of the 
higher German nobility^ joined with bourgeois political 

^A surprisingly large number of Americans cannot or will not believe that 
a prince or a count can be a real democrat. This is plainly due to a too prev- 
alent confusion of the words democratic with republican. All republics are, 



leaders to organize the new party. Not all compromised ele- 
ments could be kept out of the party, but they were excluded 
from any active participation in the conduct of its affairs or 
the shaping of its policies. 

Taken as a whole, the party stood far to the left. Wolff, 
at the extreme left of his organization, might be described 
either as a bourgeois Socialist or a Socialistic bourgeois poli- 
tician. The recruits from the former National- Liberal Party 
were less radical, but even they subscribed to a platform 
which called for the nationalization (socialization) of a 
long list of essential industries, notably mines and water and 
electrical power, and, in general, for sweeping economic re- 
forms and the most direct participation of the people in the 
government. The fact that the new party was chiefly financed 
by big Jewish capitalists caused it to be attacked by anti- 
Semites and proletarians alike, but this detracted little from 
its strength at the polls, since Germany's anti-Semites were 
never found in any considerable numbers among the 
bourgeois parties of the Left, and the proletarians were 
already for the most part adherents of one of the Socialist 

The campaign for the elections to the National Assembly 
was conducted with great energy and equally great bit- 
terness by all parties. Despite an alleged shortage of paper 
which had for months made it impossible for the newspapers 
to print more than a small part of the advertisements sub- 
mitted to them, tons of paper were used for handbills and 
placards. The streets, already filthy enough, were strewn 
ankle-deep in places with appeals for this or that party 
and vilifications of opponents. Aeroplanes dropped thou- 
sands of dodgers over the chief cities. New daily papers, 
most of them unlovely excrescences on the body of the press, 
made their appearance and secured paper grants for their 

One feature of the campaign illustrated strikingly what 

in theory at least, democratic, but a monarchist can consistently be a demo- 
crat. The two most democratic countries in the world are Denmark and Nor- 
way, yet both are kingdoms. The democratic sentiments of the men named 
above, with the possible exception of one, were of no recent growth; they 
long antedated the revolution. 



had already been clear to dispassionate observers ; Ger- 
many's new government was unashamedly a party govern- 
ment first and a general government second. Majority So- 
cialist election posters were placed in public buildings, rail- 
way stations, etc., to the exclusion of all other parties. Its 
handbills were distributed by government employees and 
from government automobiles and aeroplanes. The bourgeois 
Hallesche Zeitung's paper supply was cut in half in order 
that the ne^SociaXistV olkszeitung might be established, and 
its protest was dismissed by the Soldiers' Council with the 
statement that the V olkszeitung was "more important." Not 
even the most reactionary of the old German governments 
would have dared abuse its power in this manner. It may be 
doubted whether the revolutionary government was at all 
conscious of the impropriety of its course, but even if it had 
been it would have made no difference. One of the great 
sources of strength of Socialism is its conviction that all 
means are sacred for the furtherance of the class struggle. 

The Spartacans had boasted that the elections would not 
be permitted to be held, but the decided attitude of the gov- 
ernment made their boast an empty one. Soldiers in steel hel- 
mets, their belts filled with hand-grenades and carrying 
rifles with fixed bayonets, guarded the polling places where- 
ever trouble was expected. In Hamburg the ballot-boxes 
were burned, and reports of disorders came from two or 
three small districts elsewhere, but the election as a whole 
was quietly and honestly conducted. Election day in Man- 
hattan has often seen more disorders than were reported 
from all Germany on January 19th. 

The result of the election contained no surprises; it was, 
in general, practically what had been forecast by the best 
observers. The Majority Socialists, who had hoped for an 
absolute majority but had not expected it, polled about 43 
per cent of the total popular vote and secured 163 dele- 
gates to the National Convention. This was an increase of 
nearly 8 per cent since the last general election of 191 2. 
The Independent Socialists demonstrated considerable 
strength in Greater Berlin, but only one in every twenty- 
five of the whole country's voters supported them and only 



twenty--twD of their followers were elected. Kurt Eisner, 
Minister- President of Bavaria, failed of election although 
his name was on the ticket in more than twenty election dis- 

The total membership of the National Convention was to 
have been 433 delegates, but the French authorities in 
charge of the troops occupying Alsace-Lorraine refused to 
permit elections to be held there, which reduced the assem- 
bly's membership to 421. A majority was thus 211, and the 
two Socialist parties, with a combined total of 185, could 
accomplish nothing without 26 additional votes from 
some bourgeois party. As it later developed, moreover, the 
government party could count on the support of the Inde- 
pendents only in matters where Socialist solidarity was sen- 
timentally involved; on matters affecting economic policies 
there was much more kinship between the Majority Social- 
ists and the Democrats than between them and the follow- 
ers of Haase. 

The Democrats, with 75 delegates, were the second 
strongest non- Socialist party, the former Clericals having 
88. By virtue of their position midway between Right 
and Left they held the real balance of power. 

The National People's Party, the former Conservatives 
and Free Conservatives, made a surprisingly good showing 
in the elections, securing 42 delegates. This number, how- 
ever, included the delegates of the Middle and th^ National- 
Liberal parties of Bavaria and the Citizens' Party and Peas- 
ants' and Vineyardists' League of Wiirttemberg. The rem- 
nant of the old National- Liberal Party was able to elect 
only 21 delegates. 

There were, in addition to the parties enumerated, the 
Bavarian Peasants' League with 4 delegates, the Schles- 
wig-Holstein Peasants' and Farm-Laborers' Democratic 
League with i delegate, the Brunswick State Election As- 
sociation with I andtheGerman-Hanoverian Party (Guelphs) 
with 4 delegates. Not even the urgent need of uniting 
dissevered elements so far as possible could conquer the old 
German tendency to carry metaphysical hairsplitting into 
politics. The German Reichstags regularly had from twelve 



to sixteen different parties, and even then there were gen- 
erally two or three delegates who found themselves unable 
to agree with the tenets of any one of these parties and re- 
mained unattached, the "wild delegates" {die Wilden) , as 
they were termed. There were ten parties in the National 
Assembly, and one of these, as has been said, was a com- 
bination of five parties. 

Democracy had an overwhelming majority in the assem- 
bly. The Majority Socialists and Democrats together had a 
clear joint majority of 27 votes, and the Clericals' strength 
included many democratic delegates. No fewer than eight of 
the party's delegates were secretaries of labor unions. Thir- 
ty-four women, the greatest number ever chosen to any 
country's parliament, were elected as delegates. The Major- 
ity Socialists, the original advocates of woman's suffrage 
in Germany, fittingly elected the greatest number of these — 
15; the Clericals were next with 7, the Democrats elected 
5, the Conservatives 4, and the Independent Socialists 3. 

The government announced that the National Assembly 
would be held in Weimar on February 6th. Hardly a fort- 
night had passed since the first "Bolshevik week," and the 
cabinet feared disorders, if nothing worse, if an attempt were 
made to hold the assembly in Berlin. It was also easier to af- 
ford adequate protection in a city of thirty-five thousand 
than in the capital. Although it was never declared in so 
many words, it is probable that a sentimental reason also 
played a part in the choice. There was no taint of Prussianism 
about Weimar. As the "intellectual capital of Germany" it 
has an aura possessed by no other German city. Goethe, 
Schiller and Herder spent the greater part of their lives in 
this little Thuringian city and are buried there. It has given 
shelter to many other men whose names are revered by edu- 
cated people the world over. It is reminiscent of days when 
militarism and imperialism had not yet corrupted a "people 
of thinkers and dreamers," of days when culture had not 
yet given way to Kultur, of days before a simple, indus- 
trious people had been converted to a belief in their mis- 
sion to impose the ideals of Preussen-Deutschland upon the 
world with "the mailed fist" and "in shining armor." It is 



characteristic that men in high places believed — and they 
undoubtedly did believe — that a recollection of these things 
could in some way redound to the benefit of Germany. 

The days between the elections and the convening of the 
National Assembly brought further serious complications 
in Germany's domestic situation. Disaffection among the 
soldiers was increased by an order of Colonel Reinhardt, 
the new Minister of War, defining the respective powers of 
officers' and the soldiers' councils. The order declared that 
the power of command remained with the officers in all mat- 
ters affecting tactics and strategy. The councils' functions 
were confined to matters of provisioning and to disciplinary 
punishments. This order, although in accordance with the 
original decree of the cabinet regarding the matter, failed 
to satisfy men who had become contemptuous of all authori- 
ty except their own. 

The Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils of the whole coun- 
try were also disquieted by the announcement of the govern- 
ment that, with the convening of the National Assembly, all 
political power would pass to the assembly, and revolution- 
ary government organs everywhere and of all kinds would 
cease to exist. This was not at all to the taste of most of the 
members of the Soviets, who were affected less by politi- 
cal considerations than by the prospect of losing profitable 
sinecures and being compelled to earn a living by honest 
effort. The combined Soviets of Greater Berlin voted, 492 to 
362, to demand the retention of the Workmen's and Sol- 
diers' Councils in any future state-form which might be 
adopted. Other Soviets followed the example, and there was 
talk of holding a rival congress in Berlin contemporaneous- 
ly with the sessions of the National Assembly in Weimar. 
The Spartacans, already beginning to recover from their 
defeats of a few days earlier, began planning another coup 
for the first week of February. 

Noske's troops were kept constantly in action. The Bol- 
sheviki in Wilhelmshaven staged an armed uprising, but it 
was quickly put down. They seized power in Bremen, de- 
fied the government to cast them out, and several regiments 
were required to defeat and disarm them. There was rioting 



in Magdeburg, and also in Dusseldorf. Polish aggressions, 
particularly between Thorn and Graudenz, continued. It 
was difficult to move troops against them because of the op- 
position of the Independents and Spartacans, and a great 
part of the soldiers, arrived at the front, refused to remain 
and could not be detained, since, under Socialist methods, 
they had the right to quit at any time on giving a week's 
notice. Serious strikes further embarrassed and handicapped 
the government. 

The determination and energy displayed by the cabinet in 
these difficult days deserve generous acknowledgment, and 
especially so in view of the fact that it required a high de- 
gree of moral courage for any body of Socialist rulers to 
brave the denunciations of even well meaning Getiossen by 
relying on armed force to compel respect for their authority 
and to carry out the mandate given them now by the great 
majority of the German people. Preparations for the Na- 
tional Assembly were well made. No person was permitted 
even to buy a railway ticket to Weimar unless he was in pos- 
session of a special pass bearing his photograph, and a de- 
tachment of picked troops was sent to the city to protect the 
assembly against interruption. Machine-guns commanded 
all entrances to the beautiful National Theater which had 
been converted to the purposes of the assembly, and a special 
detail of experienced Berlin policemen and plain-clothes 
detectives was on hand to assist the soldiers. 

The local garrisons of Weimar, Eisenach, Gotha and 
other nearby places made a futile attempt to prevent the 
sending of troops from Berlin, but never got farther than the 
beginning. Their attitude was not due to any political con- 
siderations, but was dictated by selfishness and wounded 
pride : they insisted that the sending of outside troops was 
an insult to them, since they could furnish all the troops 
necessary to preserve order, and they also felt that they were 
entitled to the extra pay and rations dealt out to Noske's 

The National Assembly convened on Februry 6th with 
nearly a full attendance. It was called to order by Ebert, 
who appealed for unity and attacked the terms of the No- 



vember armistice and the additional terms imposed at its 
renewals since. The speech received the approval of all 
members of the assembly except the Independent Socialists, 
who even on this first day, started their tactics of obstruction, 
abuse of all speakers except their own and rowdy ish inter- 
ruptions of the business of the sessions. 

On February 7th Dr. Eduard David, a scholarly man 
who had been for many years one of the Majority Social- 
ists' leaders, was elected president (speaker) of the National 
Assembly. The other officers chosen came from the Chris- 
tian, Democratic and Majority Socialist parties, the extreme 
Right and extreme Left being unrepresented. Organization 
having been effected, a provisional constitution was adopted 
establishing the Assembly as a law-giving body. It provided 
for the election of a National President, to serve until his 
successor could be elected at a general election, and for the 
appointment of a Minister-President and various ministers 
of state. The constitution created a so-called Committee of 
State, to be named by the various state governments and to 
occupy the position of a Second Chamber, and empowered 
the assembly to enact "such national laws as are urgently 
necessary," particularly revenue and appropriation meas- 

Friedrich Ebert was elected Provisional President of the 
German Republic on February i ith by a vote of 277 out of a 
total of 379 votes. Hardly a decade earlier the German Em- 
peror had stigmatized all the members of Ebert's party as 
vaterlandslose Gesellen and as "men unworthy to bear the 
name of German." Now, less than three months after that 
monarch had been overthrown, a Socialist was placed at the 
head of what was left of the German Empire. A young and 
inconsequential Prussian lieutenant had six years earlier been 
refused permission to marry the girl of his choice because 
her mother sold eggs. The new President of the country 
had been a saddler. He had once even been the owner of a 
small inn in Hamburg. 

Ebert belongs to that class which the French call the petite 
bourgeoisie, the lower middle class. He possesses all the 
solid, domestic virtues of this class, and is a living ex- 



emplification of old copy-book maxims about honesty as the 
best policy and faithfulness in little things. Without a trace 
of brilliancy and without any unusual mental qualities, his 
greatest strength lies in an honesty and dependability which, 
in the long run, so often outweigh great mental gifts. Few 
political leaders have ever enjoyed the confidence and trust 
of their followers to a greater degree. 

The ministry chosen was headed by Scheidemann as Min- 
ister-President. Other members were : Minister of Defense 
(army and navy), Noske; Interior, Hugo Preuss; Justice, 
Sendsberg; Commerce, Hermann Miiller; Labor, Bauer; 
Foreign Affairs, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau ; Under-Sec- 
retary for Foreign Affairs, Baron von Richthofen ; Finance, 
Dr. Schiffer; Posts and Telegraphs, Geisberg. Erzberger, 
David and Wissell were made ministers without portfolio. 

The first sessions of the National Assembly made on the 
whole a good impression. The members were for the most 
part earnest men and women, fully up to the intellectual 
average of legislative bodies anywhere; there were com- 
paratively few among them who were compromised by re- 
lations with the old government, and these were not in a posi- 
tion to do no harm. The extreme Right was openly mo- 
narchic, but the members of this group realized fully the 
hopelessness of any attempt to restore either the Hohenzol- 
lerns or a monarchic state- form at this time, and manifested 
their loyalty to the former ruler only by objecting vigor- 
ously to Social-Democratic attacks on the Kaiser or to de- 
preciation of the services of the crown in building up the 
Empire. Apart from the pathologically hysterical conduct 
of the Independent Socialists, and particularly of the three 
women delegates of that party, the assembly's proceedings 
were carried on in what was, by European parliamentary 
standards, a dignified manner. 

From the very beginning, however, the proceedings were 
sicklied o'er by the pale cast of care. After the sufferings and 
losses of more than four years of war, the country was now 
rent by internal dissensions and fratricidal strife. To the costs 
of war had been added hundreds of millions lost to the state 
through the extravagance, dishonesty or incompetence of 



revolutionary officials and particularly Soviets. The former 
net earnings of the state railways of nearly a billion marks 
had been converted into a deficit of two billions. Available 
sources of revenue had been almost exhausted. The German 
currency had depreciated more than sixty per cent. Indus- 
try was everywhere crippled by senseless strikes. 

An insight into Germany's financial situation was given 
by the report of Finance Minister Schiflfer, who disclosed 
that the prodigious sum of nineteen billion marks would be 
required in the coming year to pay interest charges alone. 
The war, he declared, had cost Germany one hundred and 
sixty-one billion marks, which exceeded by nearly fourteen 
billions the credits that had been granted. 

The incubus of the terrible armistice terms rested up- 
on the assembly. Enemy newspapers, especially those of 
Paris, were daily publishing estimates of indemnities to be 
demanded from Germany, and the most modest of these far 
exceeded Germany's total wealth of all descriptions. NaiVe 
German editors faithfully republished these articles, failing 
to realize that they were part of the enemy propaganda and 
designed further to weaken the Germans' morale and in- 
crease their feeling of helplessness and despondency. Not 
even the fiercest German patriots and loyalists of the old 
school could entirely shake off the feeling of helplessness 
that overshadowed and influenced every act of the National 

The Majority Socialists had come to realize more fully 
the difference between theory and practice. The official organ 
of the German Federation of Labor had discovered a week 
earlier that "the socialistic conquests of the revolution can 
be maintained only if countries competing with German 
industry adopt similar institutions." There were already 
concrete proofs available that socialization, even without 
regard to foreign competition, was not practical under the 
conditions prevailing in the country. At least two large fac- 
tory owners in Northern Germany had handed their plants 
over to their workmen and asked them to take full charge 
of manufacture and sale. In both instances the workmen had, 
after a trial, requested the owners to resume charge of the 



How shall we socialize when there is luothing to social- 
ize? asked thoughtful men. The answer was obvious. Gegen 
den Tod ist kein Kraut gewachsen (there is no remedy 
against death) says an old German proverb, and industry 
was practically dead. The government party now discovered 
what Marx and Engels had discovered nearly fifty years be- 

"The practical application of these principles will always 
and everywhere depend upon historically existing condi- 
tions. * * * The Commune has supplied the proof that the 
laboring class cannot simply take possession of the machin- 
ery of state and set it in motion for its own purposes."^ 

The tardy realization of this fact placed the delegates of 
the government party in a serious dilemma. Sweeping so- 
cialization had been promised, and the rank and file of the 
party expected and demanded it. In these circumstances it 
was obvious that a failure to carry out what was at the same 
time a party doctrine and a campaign pledge would have 
serious consequences, and it must be reckoned to the credit 
of the leaders of the party that they put the material wel- 
fare of the state above party considerations and refused to 
let themselves be hurried into disastrous experiments along 
untried lines. Their attitude resulted in driving many of the 
members of the Socialist party into the ranks of the Inde- 
pendents, but in view of the fact that the government never- 
theless remained strong enough to defeat these elements 
wherever they had recourse to violence, and of the further 
fact that to accede to the demands of these intransigents 
would have given the final blow to what little remained of 
German industry, the leaders must be said to have acted 
wisely and patriotically. 

With organization effected, the National Assembly set- 
tled down to work. But it was work as all similar German 
organizations in history had always understood it. All the 
political immaturity, the tendency to philosophical and ab- 
stract reasoning, the ineradicable devotion to the merely 
academic and the disregard of practical questions that are 

'Introduction to the second edition of the Manifesto of 1849, quoted in 
chapter iii. 



such prominent characteristics of the people were exhibited 
just as they had been at the Congress at Frankfort-on-the- 
Main seventy years earlier. It has been written of that Con- 
gress : 

"But the Germans had had no experience of free political 
life. Nearly every deputy had his own theory of the course 
which ought to be pursued, and felt sure that the country 
would go to ruin if it were not adopted. Learned professors 
and talkative journalists insisted on delivering interminable 
speeches and on examining in the light of ultimate philo- 
sophical principles every proposal laid before the assembly. 
Thus precious time was lost, violent antagonisms were called 
forth, the patience of the nation was exhausted, and the re- 
actionary forces were able to gather strength for once more 
asserting themselves."^ 

Except that the reactionary forces were too weakly rep- 
resented at Weimar to make them an actual source of danger 
this characterization of the Frankfort Congress might have 
been written about the proceedings of the National Assem- 
bly of February. It is a significant and illuminating fact that 
the greatest animation exhibited at any time during the first 
week of the assembly was aroused by a difference of mean- 
ing as to the definition of a word. Professor Hugo Preuss, 
Prussian Minister of the Interior, to whom had been en- 
trusted the task of drafting a proposed constitution for the 
new republic, referred in a speech elucidating it, to "an 
absolute majority." 

"Does 'absolute majority' mean a majority of the whole 
number of delegates?" asked some learned delegate. 

The other delegates were galvanized instantly into the 
tensest interest. Here was a question worth while ! What 
does "absolute majority" mean? An animated debate fol- 
lowed and was listened to with a breathless interest which 
the most weighty financial or economic questions had never 
succeeded in evoking. 

And while the National Assembly droned thus wearily 
on, clouds were again gathering over Berlin and other cities 
in the troubled young republic. 

^Encyclopedia Britannica, title "Germany." 



The Spartacans Rise Again. 

ARTICLE xxvi of the armistice of November nth de- 
clared : 
L 'The Allies and the United States have in view the 
provisioning of Germany during the armistice to the extent 
deemed necessary."^ 

Even by the end of November it had become apparent to 
all intelligent observers on the ground and to many outside 
Germany that such provisioning was urgently necessary, 
and that if it did not come at once the result would be a 
spread of Bolshevism which would endanger all Europe. 
Allied journalists in Germany were almost a unit in recog- 
nizing the dangers and demands of the situation, but they 
were greatly hampered in their efforts to picture the situa- 
tion truthfully by the sentiments prevailing in their re- 
spective countries as a result of the passions engendered by 
the conflict so lately ended. This was in the highest degree 
true as to the Americans, which was especially regrettable 
and unfortunate in view of the fact that America was the 
only power possessing a surplus of immediately available 
foodstuffs. American correspondents, venturing to report 
actual conditions in Germany, found themselves denounced 
as "pro- Germans" and traitors by the readers of their 
papers. More than this: they became the objects of unfavor- 
able reports by officers of the American Military Intelli- 
gence, although many of these men themselves were con- 
vinced that empty stomachs were breeding Bolshevism with 
every passing day. One correspondent, who had been so bit- 
terly anti- German from the very beginning of the war that 

^Les Allies et les 6tats-Unis envisagent le ravitaillement de I'AUemagne, 
pendant I'armistice, dans la mesure reconnue necessaire. 



he had had to leave Germany long before America entered 
the struggle, was denounced in a report to the Military In- 
telligence at Washington on March 3d as "having shown 
pro-German leanings throughout the war." An American 
correspondent with a long and honorable record, who had 
taken a prominent part in carrying on American propaganda 
abroad and upon whose reports high diplomatic officials of 
three of the Allied countries had relied, was astounded to 
learn that the Military Intelligence, in a report of January 
II, 1919, had denounced him as "having gone to Berlin to 
create sentiment in the United States favorable to furnish- 
ing Germany food-supply." 

There was less of this sort of thing in England, and many 
prominent Englishmen were early awake to the dangers 
that lay in starvation. Early in January Lord Henry Ben- 
tinck, writing to the London Daily News, declared there was 
no sense in maintaining the blockade. It was hindering the 
development of industry and the employment of the idle in 
England, and in Middle Europe it was killing children and 
keeping millions hungry and unemployed. The blockade, 
said Lord Henry, was the Bolshevists' best friend and had 
no purpose except to enable England to cut off her own nose 
in order to spite Germany's face. Many other leaders of 
thought in England took the same stand. 

Despite the (at least inferential) promise in the armistice 
that Germany should be revictualled, not a step had been 
taken toward doing this when, on January 13th, more than 
two months after the signing of the armistice. President Wil- 
son sent a message to administration leaders in Congress 
urging the appropriation of one hundred million dollars for 
food-relief in Europe. 

"Food-relief is now the key to the whole European situa- 
tion and to the solution of peace," said the President. "Bol- 
shevism is steadily advancing westward ; is poisoning Ger- 
many. It cannot be stopped by force, but it can be stopped 
by food, and all the leaders with whom I am in conference 
agree that concerted action in this matter is of immediate 
and vital importance." 

So far, so good. This was a step in the right direction. But 



it had to be qualified. This was done in the next paragraph : 

"The money will not be spent for food for Germany it- 
self, because Germany can buy its food, but it will be spent 
for financing the movement of food to our real friends in 
Poland and to the people of the liberated units of the Aus- 
tro-Hungarian Empire and to our associates in the Bal- 

Former Ambassador Henry White, a member of the 
American peace delegation, supported the President's ap- 
peal with a message stating that "the startling westward ad- 
vance of Bolshevism now dominates the entire European 
situation. * * * The only effective barrier against it is food- 

The House adopted the President's recommendation with- 
out question, but the Senate insisted on adding a stipula- 
tion that no part of the money should be spent for food for 
Germany and no food bought with these funds should be 
permitted to reach that country. 

Just how an ulcer in Germany was to be cured by poultic- 
ing similar ulcers in other countries is doubtless a states- 
men's secret. It is not apparent to non-official minds. Ger- 
many, despite her poverty and the depreciation of her cur- 
rency, might have been able to buy food, but she was not 
permitted to buy any food. At least one of "the liberated 
units of the Austro-Hungarian Empire" was in equally bad 
case. Count Michael Karolyi, addressing the People's As- 
sembly at Budapest, declared that the Allies were not carry- 
ing out their part of the armistice agreement in the matter 
of food-supplies for Hungary, and that it was impossible to 
maintain order in such conditions. Whether the armistice 
actually promised to supply food is a matter of interpreta- 
tion ; that no food had been supplied is, however, a matter 
of history. 

On January 1 7th a supplementary agreement was entered 
into between the Allies and Germany, in which the former 
undertook to permit the importation of two hundred thou- 
sand tons of breadstuffs and seventy thousand tons of pork 
products to Germany "in such manner and from such places 
as the Associated Governments may prescribe." This was but 



a part of the actual requirements of Germany for a single 
month, but if it had been supplied quickly it would have 
gone far toward simplifying the tremendous problem of 
maintaining a semblance of order in Germany. 

Weeks passed, however, and no food came. With the Bol- 
shevik conflagration spreading from city to city, long de- 
bates were carried on as to what fire department should be 
summoned and what kind of uniforms the firemen should 
wear. More districts of East Prussia and Posen, the chief 
granaries of Northeastern Germany and Berlin, were lost 
to Germany. There was a serious shortage of coal and gas 
in the cities. 

Strikes became epidemic. Work was no longer occasion- 
ally interrupted by strikes; strikes were occasionally inter- 
rupted by work. Berlin's electric power-plant workers 
threw the city into darkness, and the example was followed 
in other cities. The proletarians were apparently quite as 
ready to exploit their brother proletarians as the capitalists 
were. Coal miners either quit work entirely or insisted on a 
seven-hour day which included an hour and a half spent 
in coming to and going from work, making the net result a 
day of five and a half hours. Street-car employees struck, and 
for days the undernourished people of the capital walked 
miles to work and home again. The shops were closed by 
strikes, stenographers and typewriters walked out; drivers 
of garbage wagons, already receiving the pay of cabinet 
ministers, demanded more pay and got it. From every cor- 
ner of the country came reports of labor troubles, often ac- 
companied by rioting and sabotage. 

In most of these strikes the hand of Spartacus and the In- 
dependent Socialists could be discerned. The working peo- 
ple, hungry and miserable, waiting vainly week after week 
for the food which they believed had been promised them, 
were tinder for the Bolshevist spark. The government's un- 
wise method of handling the problem of the unemployed 
further greatly aggravated the situation. The support grant- 
ed the unemployed often or perhaps generally was greater 
than their pay in their usual callings. A man with a wife 
and four children in Greater Berlin received more than 



fourteen marks daily. The average wage for unskilled labor 
was from ten to twelve marks, and the result was that none 
but the most conscientious endeavored to secure employ- 
ment, and thousands deliberately left their work and lived 
on their unemployment-allowances. Two hundred thousand 
residents of Greater Berlin were receiving daily support 
from the city by the middle of February, and this propor- 
tion was generally maintained throughout the country. This 
vast army of unemployed further crippled industry, im- 
posed serious financial burdens upon an already bankrupt 
state, and — inevitable result of idleness — made the task of 
Bolshevist agitators easier. 

The Spartacans, who since their defeat in Berlin in Jan- 
uary had been more carefully watched, began to assemble 
their forces elsewhere. Essen became their chief strong- 
hold, and the whole Ruhr district, including Diisseldorf, 
was virtually in their hands. Other Spartacan centers 
were Leipsic, Halle, Merseburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Mann- 
heim and Augsburg. All this time, however, they were also 
feverishly active in Berlin. A general strike, called by the 
Spartacans and Independent Socialists for the middle of 
February, collapsed. A secret sitting of the leaders of the 
Red Soldiers' League on Febuary 15th was surprised by the 
authorities, who arrested all men present and thus nipped 
in the bud for a time further preparations for a new revolt. 
The Independents made common cause with the Spartacans 
in demanding the liberation of all "political prisoners," 
chief among whom were Ledebour, who helped organize 
the revolt of January 5th, and Radek, "this international 
criminal," as Deputy Heinrich Heine termed him in a speech 
before the Prussian Diet. 

The respite, however, was short. On Monday, March 3d, 
the Workmen's Council now completely in the hands of the 
enemies of the government called a general strike. Street 
cars, omnibuses and interurban trains stopped running, 
all business was suspended and nightfall plunged the city 
into complete darkness. This was the signal for the first dis- 
turbances. There was considerable rioting, with some loss of 
blood, in the eastern part of the city beyond Alexander 



Platz, a section always noted as the home of a large criminal 
element. Spartacans, reinforced by the hooligan and crim- 
inal element — or let it rather be said that these consisted 
and had from the beginning consisted mainly of hooligans 
and criminals — began a systematic attack on police-stations 
everywhere. Thirty-three stations were occupied by them 
during the night, the police Officials were disarmed and 
their weapons distributed to the rabble that was constantly 
swelling the ranks of the rebels. 

The first serious clash of this second Bolshevik week came 
at the Police-Presidency, which the Spartacans, as in Jan- 
uary, planned to make their headquarters. This time, how- 
ever, the building was occupied by loyal government troops, 
and the incipient attack dissolved before a few volleys. The 
night was marked by extensive looting. Jewelers in the east- 
ern part of the city suffered losses aggregating many mil- 
lion marks. 

The situation grew rapidly worse on Tuesday. Nearly 
thirty thousand government troops marched into the city, 
bringing light and heavy artillery, mine-throwers and ma- 
chine-guns. Berlin was converted into an armed camp. The 
revolt would have been quickly put down but for an occur- 
rence made possible by the government's weakness at Christ- 
mas time. The People's Marine Division, looters of the 
Royal Palace, parasites on the city's payroll and "guardians 
of the public safety," threw off the mask and went over to 
the Spartacans in a body. A considerable number of the Re- 
publican Soldier Guards, Eichhorn's legacy to Berlin, fol- 
lowed suit. The government's failure to disarm these forces 
six weeks earlier, when their Bolshevist sentiments had be- 
come manifest, now had to be paid for in blood. The defec- 
tion was serious not only because it added to the numbers of 
the Bolsheviki, but also because it greatly increased the sup- 
plies of weapons and munitions at the disposal of the enemies 
of the government. 

The defection, too, came as a surprise and at a most un- 
fortunate time. The Marine Division, upon which the com- 
manders of the government troops had naively depended, 
had been ordered to clear the Alexander Platz, a large open 



place in front of the Police-Presidency. They began osten- 
sibly to carry out the order, but had hardly reached the 
place when they declared that they had been fired on by 
government troops. Thereupon they attacked the Police- 
Presidency, but were beaten off with some twenty-five 
killed. They withdrew to the Marine House at the Janno- 
witz Bridge, which they had been occupying since their ex- 
pulsion from the Royal Stables, and set about fortifying it. 

The following day — Ash Wednesday — was marked by 
irregular but severe fighting in various parts of the city. 
The government proclaimed a state of siege. More loyal 
troops were brought to the city. From captured Spartacans 
it was learned that a massed attack on the Police-Presidency 
was to be made at eleven o'clock at night by the People's 
Marine Division, the Red Soldiers' League and civilian 
Spartacans. The assault did not begin until nearly three 
o'clock Thursday morning. Despite the governments' troops 
disposition, the Spartacans succeeded, after heavy bombard- 
ment of the building, in occupying two courts in the southern 
wing. The battle was carried on throughout the night and 
until Thursday afternoon. Few cities have witnessed such 
civil warfare. Every instrument known to military science 
was used, with the exception of poison-gases. Late on Thurs- 
day afternoon the attackers were dispersed and the Spar- 
tacans in the Police-Presidency, about fifty men, were ar- 

The Marine House was also captured on the same after- 
noon. The defenders hoisted the white flag after a few mines 
had been thrown into the building, but had disappeared 
when the government troops occupied it. What their de- 
fection to the Spartacans had meant was illustrated by the 
finding in the building of several thousand rifles, more than 
a hundred machine guns, two armored automobiles and 
great quantities of ammunition and provisions. The Re- 
publican Soldiers' Guard, barricaded in the Royal Stables, 
surrendered after a few shells had been fired. 

The fighting so completely took on the aspects of a real 
war that the wildest atrocity stories began to circulate. They 
were, like all atrocity stories, greatly exaggerated, but it 



was established that Spartacans had killed unarmed prison- 
ers, including several policemen, had stopped and wrecked 
ambulances and killed wounded, and had systematically 
fired on first-aid stations and hospitals. Noske rose to the 
occasion like a mere bourgeois minister. He decreed : 

"All persons found with arms in their hands, resisting 
government troops, will be summarily executed." 

Despite this decree, the Spartacans, who had erected 
street-barricades in that part of Berlin eastward and north- 
ward from Alexander Platz, put up a show of resistance for 
some days. They were, however, seriously shaken by their 
heavy losses and weakened by the wholesale defections of 
supporters who had joined them chiefly for the sake of loot- 
ing and who had a wholesale respect for Noske as a man of 
his word. They had good reason to entertain this respect for 
the grim man in charge of the government's military meas- 
ures. The government never made public the number of 
summary executions under Noske's decree, but there is little 
doubt that these went well above one hundred. A group of 
members of the mutinous People's Marine Division had 
the splendid effrontery to call at the office of the city com- 
mandant to demand the pay due them as protectors of the 
public safety. Government troops arrested the callers, a 
part of whom resisted arrest. Twenty- four of these men, 
found to have weapons in their possession, were summarily 

Die Freiheit and Die Republik denounced the members 
of the government as murderers. The office of the Spar- 
tacans' Die rote Fahne had been occupied by government 
troops on the day of the outbreak of the Bolshevik uprising. 
The bourgeois and Majority Socialist press supported the 
government whole-heartedly, and the law-abiding citizens 
were encouraged by their new rulers' energy and by the 
loyalty and bravery of the government troops. There was 
a general recognition of the fact that matters had reached 
a stage where a minority, in part deluded and in part crim- 
inal, could not longer be permitted to terrorize the country. 

The uprising collapsed rapidly after the Spartacans had 
been driven from their main strongholds. They maintained 



themselves for a few days in Lichtenberg, a suburb of Ber- 
lin, and — as in the January uprising — sniping from house- 
tops continued for a week. No list of casualties was ever is- 
sued, but estimates ran as high as one thousand, of which 
probably three-quarters were suffered by the Spartacans. 
They were further badly weakened by the loss of a great part 
of their weapons, both during the fighting and in a general 
clean-up of the city which was made after the uprising had 
been definitely put down. 

As we have seen, the efforts of the German Bosheviki, 
aided by the left wing of the Independent Socialists, to over- 
throw the government by force had failed wherever the at- 
tempt had been made. Not only in Berlin, but in a dozen 
other cities and districts as well, the enemies of democracy 
had been decisively defeated. In Munich and Brunswick 
alone they were still strong and defiant, but they were to 
be defeated even there later. In these circumstances it might 
have been expected that they would not again be able to 
cause serious trouble to the government. But a new aspect 
was put on circumstances by an occurrence whose inevitabil- 
ity had long been recognized by close observers. 

The Independent Social-Democratic Party went over to 
the Spartacans officially, bag and baggage. 

In theory, to be sure, it did nothing of the kind. It main- 
tained its own organization, "rejected planless violence," 
declared its adherence to "the fundamental portion of the 
Erfurt program," and asserted its readiness to use "all polit- 
ical and economic means" to attain its aims, "including par- 
liaments," which were rejected by the Spartacans. Apart 
from this, however, there was little difference in theory and 
none in practice between the platforms of the two parties, 
for the Independents declared themselves for Soviet gov- 
ernment and for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and 
their rejection of violent methods existed only on paper. 

The party congress convened at Berlin on March 2d and 
lasted four days. Haase and Dittmann, the former cabinet 
members, were again in control, and it could not be observed 
in their attitude that there had been a time when they risked 
a loss of influence in the party by standing too far to the 



The "revolution-program" adopted by the party declared 
that the revolutionary soldiers and workingmen of Ger- 
many, who had seized the power of the state in November, 
"have not fortified their power nor overcome the capitalis- 
tic class-domination." It continued : 

"The leaders of the Socialists of the Right (Majority) 
have renewed their pact with the bourgeois classes and de- 
serted the interests of the proletariat. They are carrying on 
a befogging policy with the words 'democracy' and 'Social- 

"In a capitalistic social order democratic forms are a de- 
ceit. So long as economic liberation and independence do not 
follow upon political liberation there is no true democracy. 
Socialization, as the Socialists of the Right are carrying it 
out, is a comedy." 

The program declared a new proletarian battling organi- 
zation necessary, and continued : 

"The proletarian revolution has created such an organi- 
zation in the Soviet system. This unites for revolutionary 
activities the laboring masses in the industries. It gives the 
proletariat the right of self-government in industries, in 
municipalities and in the state. It carries through the change 
of the capitalistic economic order to a socialistic order. 

"In all capitalistic lands the Soviet system is growing out 
of the same economic conditions and becoming the bearer 
of the proletarian world-revolution. 

"It is the historic mission of the Independent Social- 
Democratic Party to become the standard bearer of the 
class-conscious proletariat in its revolutionary war of eman-, 

"The Independent Social-Democratic Party places it- 
self upon the foundation of the Soviet system. It supports 
the Soviets in their struggle for economic and political 

"It strives for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rep- 
resentatives of the great majority of the people, as a neces- 
sary condition precedent for the effectuation of Socialism. 

"In order to attain this end the party will employ all 
political and economic means of battle, including parlia- 



With this preface, these "immediate demands" of the 
party were set forth : 

"i. Inclusion of the Soviet system in the constitution: 
the Soviets to have a deciding voice in municipal, state and 
industrial legislation. 

"2. Complete disbandment of the old army. Immediate 
disbandment of the mercenary army formed from volunteer 
corps. Organization of a national guard from the ranks of 
the class-conscious proletariat. Self-administration of the na- 
tional guard and election of leaders by the men. Abolish- 
ment of courts-martial. 

"3. The nationalization of capitalistic undertakings shall 
be begun immediately. It shall be carried through without 
delay in the mining industry and production of energy (coal, 
water, electricity), iron and steel production as well as other 
highly developed industries, and in the banking and insur- 
ance business. Large estates and forests shall immediately be 
converted into the property of society, whose task it shall 
be to raise all economic undertakings to the highest point 
of productivity by the employment of all technical and eco- 
nomic means, as well as to further comradeship. Privately 
owned real estate in the cities shall become municipal prop- 
erty, and the municipalities shall build an adequate number 
of dwellings on their own account. 

"4. Election of officials and judges by the people. Im- 
mediate constitution of a state court which shall determine 
the responsibility of those persons guilty of bringing on 
the war and of hindering the earlier conclusion of peace. 

"5. War profits shall be taxed entirely out of existence. 
A portion of all large fortunes shall be handed over to the 
state. Public expenditures shall be covered by a graduated 
tax on incomes, fortunes and inheritances. The war loans 
shall be annulled, but necessitous individuals, associations 
serving the common welfare, institutions and municipalities 
shall be indemnified. 

"6. Extension of social legislation. Protection and care 
of mother and child. A care-free existence shall be assured 
to war widows and orphans and the wounded. Superfluous 



rooms of the possessing class shall be placed at the disposi- 
tion of the homeless. Fundamental reform of public-health 

"7. Separation of church from state and of church from 
school. Uniform public schools of secular character, which 
shall be erected on socialistic-pedagogic principles. Every 
child shall have a right to an education corresponding to 
his capacities, and to the furnishing of means toward that 

"8. A public monopoly of newspaper advertisements shall 
be created for the benefit of municipalities. 

"9. Establishment of friendly relations with all nations. 
Immediate resumption of diplomatic relations with the Rus- 
sian Soviet Republic and Poland. Reestablishment of the 
Workmen's Internationale on the basis of revolutionary so- 
cial policy in the spirit of the international conferences of 
Zimmerwald and Kienthal." 

It will be observed that the difference between these de- 
mands and those of the Bolsheviki (Spartacans) is precise- 
ly the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee — 
one of terminology. Some even of these principles were 
materially extended by interpretation three weeks later. 
On March 24th the Independent Socialists in the new Prus- 
sian Diet, replying to a query from the Majority Socialists 
as to their willingness to participate in the coming Prussian 
Constituent Assembly, stated conditions which contained the 
following elaboration of point 3 in the program given 
above : 

"The most important means of production in agriculture, 
industry, trade and commerce shall be nationalized imme- 
diately; the land and its natural resources shall be declared 
to be the property of the whole people and shall be placed 
under the control of society." 

The answer, by the way, was signed by Adolph Hoff- 
mann, whose acquaintance we have already made, and Kurt 
Rosenfeld, the millionaire son-in-law of a wealthy leather 

The essential kinship of the Independents and Spar- 
tacans will be more clearly apparent from a comparison of 

262 ' 


the latters' demands, as published on April 14th in Die rote 
Fahne, then appearing in Leipsic. They follow : 

"Ruthless elimination of all Majority Socialist leaders 
and of such Independents as have betrayed the Soviet sys- 
tem and the revolution by their cooperation with Majority 

"Unconditional acceptance of the demands of the Sfxar- 
tacus Party's program.^ 

"Immediate introduction of the following measures: (a) 
Liberation of all political prisoners; (b) dissolution of all 
parliamentary gatherings; (c) dissolution of all counter- 
revolutionary troop detachments, disarming of the bour- 
geoisie and the internment of all officers; (d) arming of 
the proletariat and the immediate organization of revolu- 
tionary corps; (e) abolition of all courts and the erection 
of revolutionary tribunals, together with the trial by these 
tribunals of all persons involved in bringing on the war, of 
counter-revolutionaries and traitors; (f) elimination of all 
state administrative officials and boards (mayors, provin- 
cial councillors, etc. ) , and the substitution of deleg^ates chosen 
by the people ; (g) adoption of a law providing for the taking 
over by the state without indemnification of all larger under- 
takings (mines, etc), together with the larger landed 
estates, and the immediate taking over of the administration 
of these estates by workmen's councils; (h) adoption of a 
law annulling war-loans exceeding twenty thousand maris; 
(i) suppression of the whole bourgeois press, including par- 
ticularly the Majority Socialist press." 

Some of the members of the former right wing of the 
Independent Socialists left the party and went over to the 
Majority Socialists following the party congress of the first 
week in March. They included the venerable Eduard Bern- 
stein, who declared that the Independents had demonstrated 
that they "lacked utterly any constructive program." The 
dictates of party discipline, however, together with the des- 
peration of suffering, were too much for the g^eat mass of 
those who had at first rejected Bolshevist methods, and the 

^Vide chapter xL 



German Bblsheviki received material reinforcements at a 
time when they would have been powerless without them. 

The Spartacans had lost their armed battle against the 
government, but they had won a more important bloodless 



Red or White Internationalism 

yC LL revolutions have their second phase, and this phase 
JL\ ordinarily presents features similar in kind and vary- 
X JL ing only in degree. After the actual overthrow of the 
old government a short period of excited optimism gives 
place to a realization of the fact that the administration of a 
state is not so simple as it has appeared to the opposition 
parties, and that the existing order of things — the result of 
centuries of natural development — cannot be altered over 
night. Under the sobering influence of this realization ultra- 
radicalism loses ground, the revolutionary government ac- 
cepts the aid of some of the men who have been connected 
with the deposed government, and the administration of 
affairs proceeds along an orderly middle course. 

But other revolutions, as has been stated, have had a dif- 
ferent inception, and none have depended for their success- 
ful execution and subsequent development on a people so 
sorely tried, so weakened physically and morally, and — 
last but not least — so extensively infected with the virus of 
internationalism. In so far as revolutions were not the work 
of a group of selfish aspirants for power, they were brought 
about by patriotic men whose first and last thought was the 
welfare of their own country, and who concerned themselves 
not at all about the universal brotherhood of man or the op- 
pressed peoples of other lands or races. The German revolu- 
tionists, however, scoffed at patriotism as an outworn dog- 
ma. The majority of their adherents came from the poorest 
and most ignorant stratum of the people, the class most re- 



sponsive to the agitation of leaders who promised that 
division of property contemplated by Communist Socialism. 

The Independent Socialists had "made the revolution," 
They claimed the right to determine its development. The 
bourgeoisie, itself incapable of restoring the old order and, 
for the most part, not desiring to do so, supported the par- 
ent Socialist Party as the lesser of two evils. The Independ- 
ents found themselves without the power to determine what 
course "their revolution" should take. All revolutionary his- 
tory showed that this course would not be that desired by the 
Independent leaders and promised by them to their radi- 
cal followers. The occurrences of the first month following 
the revolution again demonstrated what might be called the 
natural law of revolutionary development. The Majority 
Socialists in the government refused to let themselves be 
hurried into disastrous socializing experiments. They re- 
fused to ban intelligence and ability merely because the pos- 
sessors happened not to be Genossen. They even believed 
{horribile dictu!) that private property -rights should not 
be abolished out of hand. They were so recreant to the prin- 
ciples of true internationalism that they resented foreign 
aggressions against Germans and German soil, and they 
actually proposed to resist such aggressions by force. 

With heretics like these there could be no communion. 
They could not even be permitted to hold communion 
among themselves if it could be prevented, and the result 
was, as we have seen, the efforts of the Independents and 
Spartacans to wreck the tabernacle. 

To recount the developments of the period from the crush- 
ing of the March uprising to the signing of the Peace of 
Versailles would be but to repeat, with different settings, 
the story of the first four months of Republican Germany. 
This period, too, was filled with Independent Socialist and 
Spartacan intrigues and armed opposition to the govern- 
ment, culminating in the brief but bloody reign of the Com- 
munists in Munich in April. Strikes continued to paralyze 
industry. No food supplies of any importance were received. 
The National Assembly at Weimar continued to demon- 
strate the philosophic tendencies, academic learning and 



political immaturity of the German people. Distinct left 
wings came into being in both the Majority Socialist and 
Democratic parties. Particularism, the historic curse of the 
country, again raised its head. 

Red internationalism in Germany received a marked im- 
petus from the events in Hungary at the end of March, 
when Count Michael Karolyi handed the reins of govern- 
ment over to the Bolshevist leader Bela Kun. An effort has 
been made to represent this as a bit of theatricals staged by 
Karolyi with the support and encouragement of Berlin. 
Such an explanation is symptomatic of the blindness of those 
who will not see the significance of this development. To as- 
sert that the German Government, itself engaged in a life- 
and-death struggle with Bolshevism at home and threat- 
ened with an irruption of the Bolshevist forces of Russia, 
would deliberately create a new source of infection in a con- 
tiguous land requires either much mental hardihood or a 
deep ignorance of existing conditions. The author is able 
to state from first-hand knowledge that the German Gov- 
ernment was completely surprised by the news from Buda- 
pest, and that it had no part, direct or indirect, in bringing 
about Karolyi's resignation or the accession to power of the 
Hungarian Bolsheviki. 

The developments in Hungary were made inevitable by 
the unwisdom with which this "liberated unit of the Aus- 
tro- Hungarian Empire" was treated. When the November 
armistice was concluded, there was a "gentlemen's agree- 
ment" or understanding that the demarcation line estab- 
lished by the armistice should be policed by French, Eng- 
lish or American troops. It was not observed. Jugo-Slavs, 
Serbians and Roumanians were permitted not only to guard 
this line, but to advance well beyond it. The enemy occu- 
pation of the country extended to nearly all portions of Hun- 
gary upon which the central part, including Budapest, de- 
pended for coal, metals, wood, meats and even salt. The 
Czechs took possession of Pressburg, rechristened it Wilson 
City, and advanced along the Danube to within twenty miles 
of Budapest. Distress became acute. 

Then, on March 19th, the French Colonel Vix sent a note 



to Karolyi establishing a new demarcation line far inside the 
one established in November and at places even inside the 
lines held by Allied troops. Karolyi's position was already 
insecure. He had been welcomed when he assumed office as 
the restorer of nationalism and peace. The support accorded 
him had been largely due to his record as an opponent of 
Austria and a friend of the Entente. He had been under 
surveillance almost throughout the war because of his 
known pro- Ally sentiments, and only his prominence saved 
him from arrest. Now, when his supposed influence with the 
Allies was discovered to be non-existent, his only remain- 
ing support was shattered and he went. Hungary, infected 
with Bolshevism by Russian propagandists and returned 
prisoners of war, went over to the camp of Lenine. 

Another factor contributed greatly to the growth of the 
radical Independent Socialist and Bolshevist movement in 
Germany. This was the obvious dilemma of the Allies in 
the case of Russia, their undeniable helplessness and lack of 
counsel in the face of applied Bolshevism. Thousands of 
Germans came to believe that Bolshevism was a haven of 
refuge. Nor was this sentiment by any means confined to 
the proletariat. A Berlin millionaire said to the writer in 
March : 

"If it comes to a question of choosing between Bolshe- 
vism and Allied slaver}^, I shall become a Bolshevik without 
hesitation. I would rather see Germany in the possession 
of Bolshevist Germans than of any bourgeois government 
wearing chains imposed by our enemies. The Allies dare 
not intervene in Russia, and I don't believe they would be 
any less helpless before a Bolshevist Germany." 

Scores of well-to-do Germans expressed themselves in 
the same strain to the author, and thousands from the lower 
classes, free from the restraint which the possession of 
worldly goods imposes, put into execution the threat of 
their wealthier countrymen. 

With the conclusion of the peace of Versailles we leave 
Germany. The second phase of the revolution is not yet 
ended. Bolshevism, crushed in one place, raises its head in 
another. Industry is prostrate. Currency is so depreciated 



that importation is seriously hampered. The event is on 
the knees of the gods. 

But while the historian can thus arbitrarily dismiss Ger- 
many and the conditions created by the great war, the world 
cannot. From a material economic viewpoint alone, the co- 
lossal destruction of wealth and means of transportation, 
and the slaughter of millions of the able-bodied men of all 
nations involved are factors which will make themselves 
felt for many years. These obstacles to development and 
progress will, however, eventually be overcome. They are 
the least of the problems facing the world today as the re- 
sult of the war and — this must be said now and it will even- 
tually be realized generally — as a result of the Peace of Ver- 
sailles. The men responsible for this peace declare that it is 
the best that could be made. Until the proceedings of the 
peace conference shall have been made public, together 
with all material submitted to it, including eventual pre- 
war bargains and treaty commitments, this declaration can- 
not be controverted. One must assume at least that the mak- 
ers of the peace believed it to be the best possible. 

The bona fides of the peace delegates, however, while it 
protects them from adverse criticism, is a personal matter 
and irrelevant in any consideration of the treaty and its 
probable results. Nor is the question whether any better 
treaty was possible, of any relevancy. What alone vitally 
concerns the world is not the sentiments of a few men, but 
what may be expected from their work. As to this, many 
thoughtful observers in all countries have already come 
to realize what will eventually be realized by millions. 

The Treaty of Versailles has Balkanized Europe; it has 
to a large degree reestablished the multiplicity of territo- 
rial sovereignties that handicapped progress and caused con- 
tinuous strife more than a century ago ; it has revived smoul- 
dering race-antagonisms which were in a fair way to be 
extinguished; it has created a dozen new irredentas, new 
breeding-places of war; it has liberated thousands from 
foreign domination but placed tens of thousands under the 
yoke of other foreign domination, and has tried to insure the 
permanency not only of their subjection, but of that of other 



subject races which have for centuries been struggling for 
independence. Preaching general disarmament, it has 
strengthened the armed might of one power by disarming 
its neighbors, and has given to it the military and political 
domination of Europe. To another power it has given con- 
trol of the high seas. It has refused to let the laboring 
masses of the world — the men who fought and suffered — be 
represented at the conference by delegates of their own 

Such a treaty could not bring real peace to the world even 
if the conditions were less critical and complex. As they are, 
it will hasten and aggravate what the world will soon dis- 
cover to be the most serious, vital and revolutionary con- 
sequence of the war. What this will be has already been dimly 
foreshadowed by the almost unanimous condemnation of 
the treaty by the Socialists of France, Italy, England and 
nearly all neutral countries. 

Virtually all Americans and even most Europeans have 
little conception of the extent to which the war and its two 
great revolutions have awakened the class-consciousness of 
the proletariat of all lands. Everywhere the laboring masses 
have been the chief sufferers. Everywhere composing an 
overwhelming majority of the people, they have nowhere 
been able to decide their own destinies or have an effective 
voice in government except through revolution. Ever)'^- 
where they have been the pawns sacrificed on the bloody 
chessboard of war to protect kings and queens, bishops and 
castles. They are beginning to ask why this must be and why 
they were not permitted to have a voice in the conference 
at Versailles, and this question will become an embarrass- 
ing one for all who try to find the answer in the textbooks 
of governments as governments today exist. 

Deplore it though one may. Internationalism is on the 
march. Nor is it confined even today to people who work 
with their hands. Its advocates are to be found — have been 
found by hundreds in America itself — in the ranks of the 
thinkers of every country. The press in America has for 
months been pointing out the prevalence of internationalist 
sentiments among school-teachers and university profes- 



sors, and it has been gravely puzzled by this state of af- 
fairs. It considers it a paradox that Internationalism exists 
among presumably well educated persons. 

One might as well call it a paradox for a victim of small- 
pox to have an eruption. It is no paradox. It is a symptom. 
And, incorrectly diagnosed and ignorantly treated, it is a 
dangerous disease. 

The physician diagnoses a disease at the outset, if he can, 
and aborts it if possible. If it be contagious, he employs pre- 
cautions against its spread. No part of these precautions 
consists in ordering other people at the point of a rifle not to 
catch the disease. 

The greatest task of the governments of the world today 
is to diagnose correctly and treat intelligently. The proleta- 
rians have learned their strength. A new era is dawning. 

That era will be marked by an internationalism whose 
character and extent will depend upon the wisdom with 
which the masters of the world administer the affairs of 
their peoples. And the question which every man should 
ask himself today is : 

Shall this Internationalism be Red or White? 


The Weimar Constitution 

THE provisional constitution adopted at Weimar in 
February, 19 19, was naturally only a makeshift. It 
contained but ten paragraphs, furnishing the barest 
outline for the organization of the new state. Its basis was a 
draft of a proposed constitution made by Dr. Hugo Preuss, 
a leading authority on constitutional law, who had been 
appointed Minister of the Interior. This draft was published 
on January 20th. More than a hundred representatives of 
the various German states met in the Department of the 
Interior at Berlin on January 25th to consider it. This con- 
ference appointed a commission from its number, which 
was in session for the next five days in Berlin and then ad- 
journed to Weimar, where it finished the draft of the pro- 
visional constitution. 

Even the short period intervening between the first pub- 
lication of the Preuss draft and its submission to the National 
Assembly had sufficed to bring about one important and 
significant development. Preuss himself was an advocate of 
the so-called Einheitsstaat, a single state on the French plan, 
divided into departments merely for administrative purposes. 
Many of his friends of the German Democratic Party and 
all Socialists also wanted to do away with the separate states, 
both for doctrinal and selfish partisan reasons. Preuss re- 
alized from the beginning the impossibility of attaining his 
ideal completely, but he endeavored to pave the way by a 
dismemberment of Prussia, the largest and dominant German 
state, and by doing away completely with several of the 
smaller states, such as Anhalt, Oldenburg, etc. His constitu- 
tional draft of January proposed the creation of sixteen 
"territories of the state" {Gebiete des Reichs) : Prussia (con- 



sisting of East Prussia, West Prussia, and Bromberg), Si- 
lesia, Brandenburg, Berlin, Lower Saxony, the three Hansa 
cities (Hamburg, Bremen, Liibeck), Upper Saxony, Thu- 
ringia, Westphalia, Hesse, the Rhineland, Bavaria, Baden, 
Wurtemberg, German-Austria, and Vienna. 

It became quickly apparent that Preuss and his followers 
had underestimated the strength of the particularistic, local- 
ized patriotism and respect for tradition cherished by a great 
part of the Germans. Not only were the South Germans 
aroused to opposition by the implied threat of a possible 
eventual onslaught on their own state boundaries, but the 
great majority of the Prussians as well protested mightily 
against the proposed dismemberment of Prussia. The uni- 
tarians saw themselves compelled to yield even in the tempo- 
rary constitution by inserting a provision that "the territory 
of the free states can be altered only with their consent." 
The plan to reduce the states to mere governmental depart- 
ments was thus already defeated. 

With the erection by the National Assembly of the 
Staatenaiisschuss, or Committee of the States,^ the draft of 
the constitution was laid before that body for further consid- 
eration. On February 2 1st the committee submitted the result 
of its deliberations to the National Assembly, which referred 
it in turn to a special committee of twenty-eight members, 
whose chairman was Conrad Haussmann, a member of the 
German Democratic Party. 

The National Assembly began the second reading of the 
constitution on July 2d and finished it on July 22d. The third 
reading began on July 29th. This brought a number of 
important changes, one of which is of deep significance as 
indicating the extent to which the members of the National 
Assembly had already succeeded in freeing themselves from 
the hysterical mode of thinking induced by the immediate 
revolutionary period. All drafts of the constitution up to that 
date had provided that no member of a former reigning 
house in Germany should be eligible to the Presidency. This 
provision was stricken out on third reading. 

^Vide p. 245. 



The constitution was finally adopted on July 31, 191 9, by 
a vote of 262 ayes to 75 nayes. The negative votes were cast 
by the German National People's Party, the German People's 
Party, the Bavarian Peasants' League, and one member of 
the Bavarian People's Party (Dr. Heim). The constitution 
was signed by President Ebert and the ministry at Schwarz- 
burg on August nth, and went into effect three days later. 
On this date the imperial constitution of April 16, 1871, 
several paragraphs of which were still in effect under the 
provisional constitution of February, 191 9, ceased to exist. 

The Weimar constitution consists of two "main divisions." 
The first, dealing with the construction of the state, is 
divided into seven sections, which are subdivided into 108 
articles. The second main division, dealing with "funda- 
mental rights and fundamental duties of the Germans," 
has five sections, with 57 articles. 

A comparison of the preambles of the old and new consti- 
tutions indicates the different point of view from which they 
were approached. The constitution of 1871 began : 

"His Majesty the King of Prussia, in the name of the 
North German Federation, His Majesty the King of Bavaria, 
His Majesty the King of Wurtemberg, His Royal Highness 
the Grand Duke of Baden, and His Royal Highness the 
Grand Duke of Hesse and on the Rhine, for those parts of 
the Grand Duchy of Hesse situated south of the Main, form 
an everlasting federation for the protection of the territory 
of the federation and of the right prevailing within its 
borders, as well as for the furtherance of the welfare of the 
German people." 

The new constitution's preamble reads : 

"The German people, united in its races^ and inspired by 
the desire to renew and establish more firmly its state in 
freedom and justice, to serve the ends of peace at home and 
abroad and to further social progress, has given itself this 

^Das Deutsche Volk, einig in seinen Stdmmen. There is no adequate 
English translation of Stamme (plural of Stamm), except the word "tribes," 
which, of course, is in place only when speaking of uncivilized peoples. 



Article i reads: 

"The German state^ is a republic. The power of the state 
comes from the people." 

The revolutionary nature of the change is further empha- 
sized in article 3, which substitutes black-red-gold for the 
black-white-red of the old imperial flag." 

Outwardly the most striking and apparent change of 
structure of the government is, of course, the fact that a 
president takes the place of the Kaiser, and that the various 
federated states are also required to have a republican form 
of government, with legislatures chosen by the direct, secret 
ballot of all male and female Germans, after the propor- 
tional election system. In fact, however, these are by no 
means the most important changes. "Republic" is, after all, 
more or less a shibboleth ; the actual form and representative 
character of gov'ernments depend less on whether their head 
is a president or a hereditary monarch than on the extent to 
which they make it possible for the people themselves to make 
their will prevail quickly and effectively. 

The changes wrought by the other seventeen articles of 
the first section are fundamental and sweeping. Their gen- 
eral nature is indicated at the outset, in article 2, which 
declares that "the territory of the Reich consists of the 
territories of the German lands." The choice of the name 
"lands" instead of states, as formerly, shows the smaller 
importance and lesser degree of self-government assigned 
to them. All the old Reservatrechte or special rights re- 
served by several states under the monarchy* are done away 
with. The federal government assumes the exclusive right 
of legislation concerning foreign relations, post, telegraphs, 

^Das Deutsche Reich ist e'tne Republik. Revolutionary though they were, 
the constitution-makers could not bring themselves to discard the old name 
Reich, although it really means empire. Hence "state" is an inadequate 
translation, but it is also impossible to say that "the German Empire is a 
republic." The only solution appears to be the adoption of the German 
word Reich — a solution generally accepted in Europe. 

"Black-white-red were retained as the colors of the merchant-flag, but 
with the addition of the colors of the Reich in the upper inner corner. 

^Vide p. 21. 



and telephones, coinage, immigration and emigration, and 
customs duties. 

It reserves to itself further the right to enact uniform civil 
and criminal codes and procedure, and to legislate regarding 
the press, associations, the public health, workmen and their 
protection, expropriation, socialization, trade, commerce, 
weights and measures, the issue of paper currency, banks and 
bourses, mining, insurance, shipping, railways, canals and 
other internal waterways, theaters and cinematographs. 
"In so far as there is necessity for uniform regulations," the 
Reich may legislate concerning the public welfare and for 
the protection of the public order and security. 

The Reich reserves further the right to establish basic 
principles of legislation affecting religious associations, 
schools, manufacture, real estate, burial and cremation. It 
can also prescribe the limits and nature of the laws of the 
lands (states) affecting taxation, in so far as this may be 
necessary to prevent a reduction of the national income or a 
prejudicing of the Reich in its commercial relations, double 
taxation, the imposition of excessive fees which burden 
traffic, import taxes against the products of other states when 
such taxes constitute an unfair discrimination, and export 

The constitution takes from the states the power to collect 
customs and excises. The federal government is empowered 
to exercise a direct control in the various lands over all 
matters falling under its competence. Not only are all the 
things enumerated above, and many more, reserved to the 
Reich, but there is no provision conferring expressly any 
powers whatever on the lands. Nor is there any provision 
reserving to the states powers not expressly reserved to the 
Reich or expressly prohibited to the states. Article 12, the 
only provision along this line, states merely that "so long and 
in so far as the Reich makes no use of its law-giving powers, 
the lands retain the right of legislating. This does not apply 
to legislation reserved exclusively to the Reich." 

Article 13 provides that "the law of the Reich takes pre- 
cedence over the law of the lands." In case of a disagreement 
between state and federal government as to whether a state 



law is in conflict with a federal law, an issue can be framed 
and placed before a federal supreme court. Preuss and some 
of his supporters wanted a provision expressly conferring 
upon the Supreme Court at Leipsic such power to rule on 
the constitutionality of legislation as has been assumed by 
the United States Supreme Court, but their views did not 

The President of the Reich is elected by the direct vote 
of all Germans, male and female, who have attained the age 
of twenty. The term of office is seven years, and there is no 
limit to the number of terms for which the same President 
may be elected. Every German who has reached the age of 
thirty-five is eligible for the Presidency. There is no require- 
ment that he be a natural born citizen, nor even as to the 
length of time that he must have been a citizen. A limitation 
of eligibility to natural born citizens, as in the United States 
constitution, was considered, but was rejected, mainly be- 
cause it was expected at the time the constitution was adopted 
that Austria would become a German land, and such a pro- 
vision would have barred all living Austrians from the 
Presidency. There was also opposition on general principles 
from the internationalists of the Left, the most extreme of 
whom would as soon see a Russian or a Frenchman in the 
President's chair as a German. 

Articles 45 and 46, defining the powers of the President, 
take over almost bodily articles 11 and 18 of the imperial 
constitution, which defined the powers of the Kaiser. Like 
the Kaiser, the President "represents the Reich interna- 
tionally"; receives and accredits diplomatic representatives; 
concludes treaties with foreign powers ; appoints civil ser- 
vants and officers of the army and na\y, and is commander- 
in-chief of the country's military and naval forces. In only 
one important respect are the President's apparent powers 
less than the Kaiser's were : war can be declared and peace 
concluded only by act of the Reichstag and Reichsrat. Under 
the monarchy, a declaration of war required only the assent 
of the Federal Council and even this was not required if the 
country had been actually invaded by an enemy. The Presi- 
dent has no power of veto over legislation, but he can order 



that any law be submitted to the people by referendum before 
it can go into effect. He can dissolve the Reichstag at any 
time, as could the Kaiser, but only once for the same reason — 
a limitation to which the Kaiser was not subject. He has the 
general power to pardon criminals. He can, if public safety 
and order be threatened, temporarily suspend most of the 
provisions of the constitution regarding freedom of speech 
and of the press, the right of assembly, the secrecy of postal 
and wire communications, freedom of organization, security 
against search and seizure in one's own dwelling, etc. 

All these provisions appear to confer very extensive powers 
upon the President. His appointments of diplomatic repre- 
sentatives do not require the assent of a legislative body. He 
appoints his own Chancellor and, upon the latter's recom- 
mendation, the ministers of the various departments, also 
without requiring the assent of the legislative body. By re- 
ferring a legislative enactment to a referendum vote he 
exercises what is in effect a suspensive veto. 

Two articles of the constitution, however, render all these 
powers more or less illusory. Article 50 provides : 

"All orders and decrees of the President, including those 
affecting the country's armed forces, require for their validity 
to be countersigned by the Chancellor or the competent 
minister. The official who countersigns accepts thereby the 
responsibility for the order or decree in question." 

A similar provision in the American constitution would be 
of no importance, for the members of the cabinet are not 
responsible to either the people or the Congress for their 
acts. Once appointed, there is no way of getting rid of them 
against the will of the President, no matter how inefficient 
or even harmful they may be to the best interests of the 
country. The German constitution confers much more effec- 
tive power upon the people and the people's representatives. 
Its article 54 provides : 

"The Chancellor and the ministers of the Reich require the 
confidence of the Reichstag for the conduct of their offices. 
Any one of them must resign if the Reichstag, by express 
decision, withdraws its confidence from him." 

It is readily apparent that the President's powers are 



greatly limited by these two articles. As against a hostile 
Reichstag he is all but powerless. The Chancellor or other 
member of the government required to countersign orders 
or decrees knows in advance that such countersigning means 
his own official suicide if the matter be one in which a ma- 
jority of the Reichstag is at odds with the President. It is 
apparent from a study of the proceedings of the National 
Assembly and its constitutional committee that it was in- 
tended to give the President independent powers in respect 
of two important matters — the dissolution of the Reichstag 
and the suspensive veto by appeal to the people — but article 
50 says unqualifiedly that "all" orders and decrees must be 

The legislative functions of the Reich are vested in the 
Reichstag and the Reichsrat, or Council of the Reich, which 
succeeds the Federal Council of the monarchy. The members 
of the Reichstag are elected by direct vote of the people for 
a term of four years, after the proportional election system. 
The Reichstag must convene for the first time not later than 
thirty days after the election, which must be held on a 
Sunday or a public holiday, and the election for the suc- 
ceeding Reichstag must be held within sixty days from the 
date of the expiration or dissolution of the preceding one. It 
convenes regularly on the first Wednesday of every Novem- 
ber. The President of the Reichstag must call an extraordi- 
nary session at the demand of the President of the Reich or 
when a third of the members of the Reichstag itself demand 

All the constitution's provisions regarding the Reichstag 
indicate the detdrmination of the framers of the instrument 
to make it a thoroughly representativ-e, independent body of 
great dignity. The deputies are clothed with more far-reach- 
ing immunities than is the case in most countries, and in 
addition to that there is a specific provision extending to them 
the right to refuse to reveal, even in court proceedings, any 
matters communicated to them in their capacity as members 
of the Reichstag. 

There is a provision for a standing committee on foreign 
affairs, which may hold sessions at any time and holds office 



after the expiration of the members' terms or after dissolu- 
tion of the Reichstag until the succeeding Reichstag con- 
venes. It is expressly provided that the sessions of this com- 
mittee shall not be public unless two-thirds of the members 
vote at any particular time to hold a public session. This 
provision, adopted by a body, the majority of whose members 
were outspoken opponents of secret diplomacy, is not without 
interest. It would seem to be a tacit admission that prelimi- 
nary negotiations between nations cannot always be carried 
on advantageously in public. 

The Federal Council was, under the monarchy, the chief 
bulwark of the princes, whose representatives, not the 
people's, its members were.^ In the new Reichsrat, the suc- 
cessor of the Federal Council, the various lands are repre- 
sented "by members of their governments."^ These are the 
cabinet ministers of the respective states. The Weimar con- 
stitution provides that such ministers shall be directly re- 
sponsible to the diets of their respective lands, in like manner 
as the members of the federal government are responsible 
to the Reichstag. Hence, although chosen indirectly, being 
named, as under the imperial constitution, by their respective 
state governments, they are nevertheless subject to constant, 
effective control by the people's representatives, who can 
remove them at any time by a simple vote of lack of confi- 

Each state is entitled to send at least one representative 
to the Reichsrat. The larger states are entitled to one repre- 
sentative for each 700,000 inhabitants, and a remainder of 
at least 350,000 entitles them to one additional member. It 
is provided, however, that Prussia may not have more than 
two-fifths of the entire number of representatives.* The 

^Vide p. 22. 

'Weimar constitution, art. 63. 

^Original drafts of the constitution, as well as the provisional constitu- 
tion adopted in February, provided that no state should have more than 
one-third of the total number. Prussia, with four-sevenths of the total 
population of Germany, successfully opposed this attempt to reduce her 
representation so disproportionately. She was, however, compelled to accept 
a provision that half her representatives should be appointed by the state 
government and the other half by the provincial governments. In the other 
lands the state government appoints all the representatives. 



Reichsrat consists of sixty-six members, apportioned as fol- 
lows : 

Prussia, 26; Bavaria, 10; Saxony, 7; Wurtemberg, 4; 
Baden, 3 ; Thuringia, 2 ; Hesse, 2 ; Hamburg, 2 ; Mecklen- 
burg-Schwerin, i ; Oldenburg, i ; Brunswick, i ; Anhalt, i ; 
Bremen, i ; Lippe, i ; Liibeck, i ; Mecklenburg-Strelitz, i ; 
Waldeck, i ; Schaumburg- Lippe, i. 

The fifth section of the constitution containing articles 
68 to 'J'] inclusive, is devoted to the legislative functions of 
the Reich. Article 68 reads : 

"Bills are proposed by the government of the Reich^ or by 
the members of the Reichstag. 

"The laws of the Reich are enacted by the Reichstag." 

While the Reichsrat cannot directly propose legislative 
measures, however, it can compel the government to submit 
to the Reichstag measures drafted by it. If the government 
be in disagreement with the Reichsrat, it must accompany 
its submission with a statement of its attitude toward the 
measure in question. The Reichsrat, while it cannot take any 
positive part in enacting legislation, has the right to vote 
disapproval of any measure enacted by the Reichstag, and 
such disapproval acts as a suspensive veto. In such case, 
the measure goes back to the Reichstag. If the Reichstag re- 
enacts it by a two-thirds majority, the President of the Reich 
must duly proclaim the law within three months or else 
order a popular referendum. If a smaller majority than two- 
thirds again votes in favor of the measure, the President 
may order a referendum within three months thereafter. If 
he fail to do this, the measure is lost.^ 

The express approval by the Reichsrat of proposed legis- 
lation is not required for its enactment. It must express its 
disapproval within two weeks after an act has been passed 
finally by the Reichstag ; if it fail to do so, the act becomes 

^"The government of the Reich" or "the Reich government" means the 
Chancellor and all the ministers of his cabinet. 

'This sems to be the sole instance in which the President possesses any 
real, independent power. In such a case it would be possible for him to ally 
himself with the Reichsrat against both Reichstag and government, for he 
cannot be compelled to order a referendum. 



One is again impressed by the importance assigned to the 
Reichstag, the direct creation of the people. The national 
government is responsible to it, as is also the President 
through the provision that all his decrees must be counter- 
signed by a member of the government. A two-thirds ma- 
jority of the Reichstag can overrule the Reichsrat, and the 
same number can impeach the President or any member of 
the government, or even submit directly to the people the 
question as to whether the President shall be recalled. Its 
decision to hold such a referendum automatically inhibits 
the President from exercising any of the functions of his 

It is the people themselves, however, to whom the supreme 
power is given, or, perhaps better expressed, who have 
reserved the supreme power for themselves by extensive pro- 
visions for referendum and initiative. In addition to the pro- 
visions for referendum already referred to, the President 
can decree, within one month after its passage, that any law 
enacted by the Reichstag shall be referred to the people. 

The law-giving powers delegated to the Reichstag can 
also be exercised directly by the people. One-twentieth of the 
registered voters can require that a referendum be held on 
any Reichstag enactment against whose formal proclamation 
as law at least one-third of the Reichstag members shall 
have protested. One-tenth of the registered voters can present 
the draft of a legislative measure and demand that it be 
referred to a general election. The Reichstag can prevent 
the holding of such a referendum only by adopting the pro- 
posed measure unchanged. Enactments of the Reichstag can 
be declared invalid by referendum only by the vote of a 
majority of a majority of all registered voters. Only the 
President can order that a referendum be held on the national 
budgets, customs and taxation, and salaries of officials and 
civil servants. No initiative is possible as to these things. 

The people's initiative was one of the various concessions 
to the Socialists of which more will be said later. It was not 
contemplated by the framers of the original drafts of the 
constitution and was introduced at a late period in the de- 



The provisions regulating the amendment of the consti- 
tution are more definite than those of the United States 
constitution, and they also make it possible for the voters to 
make their will known by the democratic method of the 
direct ballot.^ Amendments originating with the Reichstag 
or government may be adopted by the same procedure as is 
prescribed for ordinary legislative measures, except that 
two-thirds of two-thirds of all members, i.e., four-ninths of 
the whole house, must vote for them.^ A tenth of the regis- 
tered voters of the country may present a draft of a proposed 
amendment, as is provided for ordinary bills, and this 
amendment must be referred to a vote of the people unless 
the Reichstag adopt it unchanged. For the adoption of an 
amendment by referendum the affirmative vote of a majority 
of the registered voters is required.^ 

Seven articles deal with the judicial department of the 
government. They make no important changes from the old 
constitution, except that courts-martial are forbidden except 
in time of war or aboard warships. An attempt by the parties 
of the Left to do away with state courts and place the dis- 
pensing of justice solely in the hands of the federal courts 

The second "main division" of the constitution deals with 
the "fundamental rights and fundamental duties of the 

^The United States Supreme Court has decided that the constitutional 
requirement of a vote of "two-thirds of both houses" (art. v) for amend- 
ments does not mean two-thirds of both houses, but merely two-thirds of a 
quorum of both houses. It has further decided that the people of the various 
states have no right to vote directly upon constitutional amendments ; they 
are confined to indirect representation through their legislatures. 

'Every European people regards its constitution merely as a fundamental 
law, and ascribes no sacrosanct character to it. Hence the departure from 
the American requirement of an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the 
states. On the other hand, the framers of the Weimar constitution, by pro- 
viding for a direct vote of the people, rendered it impossible for an aggressive 
and unscrupulous minority to force through an amendment against the 
wishes of a majority of the people. 

'The question of the return of the monarchy in some form is and will be 
for some years chiefly of academic interest, but it will be noted that, from a 
purely juristic viewpoint, a monarchy can be re-established at any time by 
a bare majority of all German men and women twenty years of age a% over, 
and that one-tenth of the voters, or somewhat less than four millions, could 
at any time force a vote on the question. 



Germans." Excluding fifteen "transitional and concluding 
decrees," the constitution contains 165 articles. No less than 
56 of these, or more than one-third, are devoted to sections 
bearing the following titles : 

, The individual; social life; religion and religious soci- 
eties ; education and school ; economic life. 

The first ten articles, dealing with the individual, begin 
by declaring the equality of all Germans before the law. All 
titles of nobility are abolished, but they may be borne here- 
after as parts of a name. Orders and decorations may not be 
conferred by the state, and "no German may accept titles or 
orders from a foreign government."^ That part of the Bill 
of Rights contained in amendments i, iv, vi, and xiv of the 
American constitution is taken over in effect, but with much 
enlargement of the rights of the individual. Thus, to the 
provision for freedom of speech and the press is added the 
declaration that "no employment or salaried relation shall 
deprive any person of this right, and no person may prejudice 
him for making use of this right." Later, in the articles deal- 
ing with economic life, it is further provided : 

"Freedom to associate for the protection and furthering of 
labor and economic conditions is guaranteed to every person 
and for all callings. All agreements and measures which 
endeavor to restrict or prevent the exercise of this freedom 
are illegal.^ 

A right to the protection of the Reich as against foreign 
countries is expressly granted "to all nationals of the Reich 
both within and without the territory of the Reich."* Nor 
may any German be delivered up to a foreign nation for 
prosecution or punishment. It is expressly provided that men 
and women "have, in principle, the same rights and duties." 

'This goes even farther than the American constitution, which provides 
merely that "no person holding any office of profit or trust" under the federal 
government shall, without the consent of Congress, accept any present or 
title from a foreign power. (Art. i, sect. 9, par. 8.) 

'Under this provision workmen cannot be required to sign contracts 
binding them not to join labor-unions, nor can employers contract with each 
other not to hire members of such unions. 

'This, too, is a departure from the American model. An American citizen 
has no constitutional right to the protection of his government while he is 
without the country. 



The right to assemble peaceably without previous notifica- 
tion or permission is granted — a flat contrast to the situation 
under the monarchy — but the Reichstag is empowered to 
enact a law requiring previous notification of such assem- 
blages if they are to be held outdoors, and may prohibit them 
in case the public safety be threatened. 

Up to this point the Weimar constitution does not present 
any marked evidence of the circumstances under which it 
came into being. In comparison with the imperial constitution 
it may fairly be regarded as revolutionary, but considered by 
itself it is merely an advancedly democratic instrument with 
provisions insuring thoroughly parliamentary government 
in the best sense of the word. It is not until one reaches the 
articles dealing with social and economic life, the church and 
the school that the traces of Socialist influence become un- 
mistakable. There, however, they are found on every page, 
beginning with the declaration that "motherhood has a right 
to the protection and care of the state," followed by an article 
providing that "illegitimate children are to be granted by 
legislation the same conditions for their bodily, mental and 
social development as are granted to legitimate children." 

Essentially, of course, neither provision is especially So- 
cialistic, but both really represent a compromise with the 
parties of the Left. The Majority Socialists tried to have an 
article inserted giving to illegitimate children full rights of 
inheritance with legitimate children of their father's estate, 
and the right to bear his name. The motion was defeated, 167 
to 129 votes. The Independent Socialists wanted a provision 
protecting women civil servants who become mothers of 
illegitimate children, and granting them the right to be 
addressed as Frau (Mrs.) instead oi Frdulein (Miss). This, 
too, was defeated. 

Other articles due to Socialist advocacy, some of a princi- 
pal nature, others merely doctrinaire, are : 

Providing that legal rights may not be refused to any 
association because it has a political, politico-social or re- 
ligious aim; 

Providing that "no person is obliged to state his religious 
belief" ; 



Disestablishing the state church ; 

Providing for secular (non-religious) schools, freeing 
teachers from the duty to give religious instruction, and per- 
mitting parents or guardians to free their children from 
religious instruction ; 

Providing that "the cultivation and use of land is a duty 
which the owner owes to the community.^ Increase in value of 
the land which is not due to labor or the investment of capital 
in it is to be utilized for the good of the people" ; 

"Property imposes obligations. Its enjoyment shall be at 
the same time a service for the common weal" ; 

Directing the dissolution of entailed estates ; 

Declaring that civil servants "are servants of the whole 
people, not of a party." 

The anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiments of the 
Socialists did not find as complete expression in the constitu- 
tion as those parties had desired. The church is disestab- 
lished, but it retains the right to tax its members and have 
legal process for the collection of the taxes. The property of 
the church is left untouched. Subsidies formerly paid from 
public funds are discontinued. Sunday is protected as "a day 
of rest and spiritual elevation." Religious bodies may hold 
services in hospitals, prisons, army barracks, etc., "in so far 
as need for divine services and ministerial offices exists," but 
no person can be compelled to attend. 

All these provisions are, of course, of comparatively minor 
importance — except that dissolving the entailed estates — and 
many are mere doctrinarianism, but the final section of the 
constitution, dealing with economic affairs, brings principles 
which, if the combined Socialist parties should ever succeed 
in getting a bare majority of the country's voters under their 
banner, would make possible far-reaching changes along 
Marxian lines. Article 153 reads: 

"Property can be expropriated only for the common wel- 
fare and by legal methods. Expropriation is to be made upon 

*This is an interesting novelty as to real estate, but the principle is by no 
means new, being well established in patent law. Failure to exploit a patent 
right may lead to its loss. 



just compensation, so far as a law of the Reich does not pre- 
scribe otherwise." (Italics by the author.) 

Article 156 reads : 

"The Reich can, by law, without prejudice to the question 
of compensation, with due employment of the regulations 
governing expropriations, transfer to the ownership of the 
people private economic undertakings which are adapted 
for socialization. It can itself participate, or cause the lands 
or municipalities to participate, in the administration of eco- 
nomic undertakings and associations, or can in other manner 
secure to itself a deciding influence therein. 

"The Reich can also, in case of urgent necessity and in the 
interests of the public, consolidate by law economic under- 
takings and associations on the basis of self-administration, 
for the purpose of securing the cooperation of all creative 
factors of the people, employers and employees, in the ad- 
ministration, and of regulating production, manufacture, 
distribution, utilization and prices, as well as import and 
export, of the economic properties upon principles serving 
the interests of the people." 

"Labor enjoys the especial protection of the Reich." 
gained by the revolutionary parties in framing the constitu- 
tion. They not only make sweeping socialization possible, in 
the event of the Socialists coming into power, but also, as the 
italicized sentence in article 153 indicates, socialization with- 
out compensation to the former private owners. 

There are still two Socialistic articles to be considered. 
One, article 157, says: 

"Labor enjoys the especial protection of the Reich." 

Die Arbeitskraft, translated above by labor, means the 
whole body of workmen. The provision is another bit of 
doctrinarianism without any particular value, but it is never- 
theless at variance with the equal-rights-to-all and all- 
Germans-equal-before-the-law spirit that is so carefully em- 
phasized elsewhere in the constitution. The other article 
calling for particular mention is No. 165, the last article of 
the constitution proper. This is a direct heritage of Novem- 
ber, 1918. 

From the very outset, as has been pointed out repeatedly in 



this work, the Spartacans were determined to impose the 
soviet form of government upon Germany. Later on the 
Independent Socialists also threw off their parliamentary 
mask and joined in the demand for the Rdierepublik on the 
Bolshevist model. There were some leaders of the Majority 
Socialist Party who were willing to consider a combination 
of parliamentarism and sovietism, but most of the older 
leaders, including Ebert, had no sympathy with the idea. 
They were Socialists, but also democrats. When it began to 
become apparent to the advocates of the soviet system that 
they were in the minority, they raised a demand that the 
workmen's council should be "anchored" in the constitution. 
The framers of that document did not take the demand 
seriously, and the draft prepared for presentation to the 
National Assembly after the adoption of the provisional 
constitution made no reference to the councils. 

The extremer Socialists, however, renewed their original 
demand, and even the more conservative leaders of the parent 
party, much against their will, saw themselves compelled 
for partisan political reasons to support the demand. The 
result was article 165, inserted in the draft in June. 

This article begins by declaring that workmen and other 
wage-earners have equal rights with their employers in de- 
termining wage and working conditions and in cooperating 
"in the entire economic development of productive powers." 
It provides that they shall, for the protection of their social 
and economic interests, have the right to be represented 
through workmen's shop councils {Betriebsarbeiterrdte) , as 
well as in district workmen's councils {Bezirksarbeiter- 
rdte) , and in a national workmen's council {Reichsarbeiter- 
rat). The district and national councils combine with the 
representatives of the employers "and other interested circles 
of the people" to form district economic councils {Bezirks- 
wirtschaftsrdte) , and a national economic council {Reichs- 
wirtschaftsrat). "The district economic councils and the 
national economic council are to be so constituted that all 
important groups of interests are represented in proportion 
to their economic and social importance." 



Article 165 continues: 

"Politico-social and politico-economic bills of fundamen- 
tal importance shall, before their introduction, be laid by 
the government of the Reich before the national economic 
council for its consideration and report. The national eco- 
nomic council has the right to propose such bills itself. If 
the government does not approve of them, it must never- 
theless lay them before the Reichstag, together with a state- 
ment of its attitude. The national economic council is em- 
powered to have the bill advocated before the Reichstag by 
one of its members. 

"Powers of control and administration can be conferred 
upon the workmen's and economic councils over matters 
lying in their sphere of action." 

Thus the "anchor" of the workmen's councils in the 
German constitution. It is difficult to find in it the importance 
assigned to it by the Socialists. The national council has, in 
the last analysis, only such power as the Reichstag may 
choose to confer upon it. There was no sharp opposition to 
the article from the bourgeois parties, doubtless due in large 
part to the fact that, even long before the revolution, the 
right of workmen to combine and negotiate as organizations 
with their employers was recognized by everybody, and that 
Germany, with less than two-thirds of the population of the 
United States, has roundly three times as many organized 
workmen. In the circumstance, article 165 did not bring any 
really revolutionary change. 

The foregoing is a brief outline of the more important 
features of the constitution of the German Republic. Con- 
sidering all the attendant circumstances of its birth — the 
apathy of the people, the weakness of the government, the 
disruption of the Germans into factions which bitterly hated 
and opposed each other, the savage conditions of the peace, 
following the crushing conditions of the armistice, the dis- 
appearance from the political field of most of the trained 
minds of the old empire, the strength of the elements inspired 
by purely materialistic and egoistic aims or by a naive trust 
in the internationalists of other lands, the constant pressure 
from the enemy — the f ramers and proponents of the constitu- 



tion accomplished a national deed of dignity and worth. 
They might easily have done much worse ; it is impossible 
for one who watched the developments of those trying days 
to assert that they could have done much better. 

(The author's acknowledgments are due as to this chapter to Dr. Hugo 
Preuss, for valuable information as to the course of the deliberations of 
the various constitutional commissions and for interpretations of the consti- 
tution, and to Dr. Fremont A. Higgins, A.M., LL.B. (Columbia), J.U.D. 
(University of Kiel), who generously gave the benefit of his wide knowledge 
of German law and bibliography.) 



Through the courtesy of the World Peace Foundation the Yale 
University Press is enabled to reprint "The Constitution of the 
German Commonwealth" as it appeared in the League of Na- 
tions for December, 1919. The following note on "The Termi- 
nology of the Constitution" by the translators, William Bennett 
Munro and Arthur Norman Holcombe, appeared in the intro- 
duction to the trattslation: 

A WORD should be added in explanation of the way in which certain technical 
terms have been translated. 

It is no longer fitting, for example, to translate Reich as empire. Yet it is 
not clear to what extent the old spirit as well as the old forms have changed. 
Certainly the "strange trappings and primitive authority" of the imperial gov- 
ernment are gone. How far has the spirit as well as the form of government of, 
by, and for the People taken its place ? It is too soon to say. Whatever the event 
may be, it seems best for Americans at this time to substitute for empire the less 
specialized expression, commonwealth. 

Another difficulty arises when Reichs- is used as a qualifier. Is the Reichsrat, 
for example, a federal council or a national council? This raises a fundamental 
question concerning the effect of the Revolution. Is the German Commonwealth 
a unified state or does it remain a confederation ? Apparently the former federal 
States have not yet surrendered all their sovereign powers. The residue of sover- 
eignty left to the States, however, is slight and unsubstantial. Recently, indeed 
(December, 1919), the Assembly of the principal State, Prussia, is reported to 
have adopted a resolution in favor of further centralization. As the Constitution 
stands, the Commonwealth appears to be a federation in which the rights of the 
States are subordinated to those of the Union to a far greater extent than in 
our own United States. It has seemed proper, therefore, to use the term "na- 
tional" rather than "federal." 

The term Reichsregierung might be translated National Government, or Ad- 
ministration, or Cabinet. We have adopted the term Cabinet because of its 
greater precision. Both the other expressions have a more general as well as a. 
specialized meaning and would ordinarily be understood by Americans to in- 
clude the President as well as the Chancellor and Ministers, who alone are the 
members of the Cabinet in the strict sense of the term. The Regierung must be 
distinguished from the Ministertum. The latter t^rm may designate either the 
whole body of ministers or the department of any one minister. In the text of 
the German Constitution it is used only in the latter sense. 

The translations adopted for the principal political terms of the new Con- 
stitution are indicated in the glossary. In general the purpose has been to adhere 
as closely to a literal rendering of the German as was compatible with an in- 
telligible English version. Preference has been given throughout the translation 
to the terminology of republican government as developed in the United States. 
For a correct understanding of a foreign constitution, no translation can how- 
ever suffice ; the original text with a commentary must be carefully studied by 



anyone who wishes to obtain a thorough comprehension of such a document. 

The translators are glad to acknowledge their indebtedness to Professor John 
A. Walz and Dr. F. W. C. Lieder of the Department of German in Harvard Uni- 
versity, and to Dean Roscoe Pound of the Harvard Law School for careful scru- 
tiny of the proofs and many helpful suggestions on difficult passages. 

W. B. M. 
A. N. H. 
January s, 1920. 










Reichsministerium, pl.,-ien 
















C omtnonwealth 

of the C ommonwealth, national 

National Workers' Council 

National Judicial Court 

National Chancellor 

National Minister 

National Department 

President of the Commonwealth, Na- 
tional President 

National Council 

National Cabinet 

National Assembly 

National Administrative Court 

National Economic Council 

State (an integral part of the Common- 

of the State, State 

State Cabinet 

State Assembly 

Electoral Commission 

country, state (^one of the family of 
nations) ; referring to Germany, it 
designates the Comm.onwealth and 
separate States as a single political 

Supreme Judicial Court 




The Constitution of the German 


The German People, united in all their branches, and inspired by the determina- 
tion to renew and strengthen their Commonwealth in liberty. and justice, to 
preserve peace both at home and abroad, and to foster social progress, have 
adopted the following Constitution. 

Structure and Functions of the Commonwealth. 


The German Commonwealth is a republic. 
Political authority is derived from the People. 

The territory of the Commonwealth consists of the territories of the German 
States. Other territories may be incorporated into the Commonwealth by 
national law, if their inhabitants, exercising the right of self-determination, so 

The national colors are black, red and gold. The merchant flag is black, 
white and red, with the national colors in the upper inside corner. 


The generally recognized principles of the law of nations are accepted as an 
integral part of the law of the German Commonwealth. 



Political authority is exercised in national affairs by the National Govern- 
ment in accordance with the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and in State 
affairs by the State Governments in accordance with the State constitutions. 


The Commonwealth has exclusive jurisdiction over: 

1 . Foreign relations ; 

2. Colonial affairs ; 

3. Citizenship, freedom of travel and residence, immigration and emigra- 

tion, and extradition ; 

4. Organization for national defense ; 

5. Coinage; 

6. Customs, including the consolidation of customs and trade districts and 

the free interchange of goods ; 

7. Posts and telegraphs, including telephones. 

The Commonwealth has j urisdiction over : 

1 . Civil law ; 

2. Criminal law ; 

3. Judicial procedure, including penal administration, and official co- 

operation between the administrative authorities ; 

4. Passports and the supervision of aliens ; 

5. Poor relief and vagrancy; 

6. The press, associations and public meetings ; 

7. Problems of population; protection of maternity, infancy, childhood 

and adolescence ; 

8. Public health, veterinary practice, protection of plants from disease 

and pests ; 

9. The rights of labor, social insurance, the protection of wage-earners 

and other employees, and employment bureaus ; 

10. The establishment of national organizations for vocational representa- 


1 1 . Provision for war- veterans and their surviving dependents ; 

12. The law of expropriation; 

13. The socialization of natural resources and business enterprises, as well 

as the production, fabrication, distribution, and price-fixing of 
economic goods for the use of the community ; 

14. Trade, weights and measures, the issue of paper money, banking, and 

stock and produce exchanges ; 


15. Commerce in foodstuffs and in other necessaries of daily life, and in 

luxuries ; 

1 6. Industry and mining ; 

17. Insurance; 

18. Ocean navigation, and deep-sea and coast fisheries; 

19. Railroads, internal navigation, communication by power-driven vehicles 

on land, on sea, and in the air ; the construction of highways, in so 
far as pertains to general intercommunication and the national de- 
fense ; 

20. Theaters and cinematographs. 


The Commonwealth also has jurisdiction over taxation and other sources of 

income, in so far as they may be claimed in whole or in part for its purposes. If 

the Commonwealth claims any source of revenue which formerly belonged to 

the States, it must have consideration for the financial requirements of the States. 

Whenever it is necessary to establish uniform rules, the Commonwealth has 
jurisdiction over: 

1 . The promotion of social welfare ; 

2. The protection of public order and safety. 

The Commonwealth may prescribe by law fundamental principles concerning : 

1 . The rights and duties of religious associations ; 

2. Education, including higher education and libraries for scientific use ; 

3. The law of officers of all public bodies ; 

4. The land law, the distribution of land, settlements and homesteads, 

restrictions on landed property, housing, and the distribution of 
population ; 

5. Disposal of the dead. 

The Commonwealth may prescribe by law fundamental principles concerning 
the validity and mode of collection of State taxes, in order to prevent : 

1. Injury to the revenues or to the trade relations of the Commonwealth; 

2. Double taxation ; 

3. The imposition of excessive burdens, or burdens in restraint of trade 

on the use of the means and agencies of public communication ; 



4. Tax discriminations against the products of other States in favor of 

domestic products in interstate and local commerce ; or 

5 . Export bounties ; 

or in order to protect important social interests. 


So long and in so far as the Commonwealth does not exercise its jurisdiction, 
such jurisdiction remains with the States. This does not apply in caises where the 
Commonwealth possesses exclusive jurisdiction. 

The National Cabinet may object to State laws relating to the subjects of 
Article 7, Number 13, whenever the general welfare of the Commonwealth is 
affected thereby. 


The laws of the Commonwealth are supreme over the laws of the States which 
conflict with them. 

If doubt arises, or difference of opinion, whether State legislation is in 
harmony with the law of the Commonwealth, the proper authorities of the 
Commonwealth or the central authorities of the States, in accordance with more 
specific provisions of a national law, may have recourse to the decision of a 
supreme judicial court of the Commonwealth. 

The laws of the Commonwealth will be executed by the State authorities, 
unless otherwise provided by national law. 


The National Cabinet supervises the conduct of affairs over which the Com- 
monwealth has jurisdiction. 

In so far as the laws of the Commonwealth are to be carried into effect by the 
State authorities, the National Cabinet may issue general instructions. It has 
the power to send commissioners to the central authorities of the States, and, 
with their consent, to the subordinate State authorities, in order to supervise the 
execution of national laws. 

It is the duty of the State Cabinets, at the request of the National Cabinet, 
to correct any defects in the execution of the national laws. In case of dispute, 
either the National Cabinet or that of the State may have recourse to the decision 
of the Supreme Judicial Court, unless another court is prescribed by national 

The oflScers directly charged with the administration of national affairs in 
any State shall, as a rule, be citizens of that State. The officers, employees and 



workmen of the national administration shall, if they so desire, be employed in 
the districts where they reside as far as is possible and not inconsistent with their 
training and with the requirements of the service. 


Every State must have a republican constitution. The representatives of the 
People must be elected by the universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage of all 
German citizens, both men and women, according to the principles of pro- 
portional representation. The State Cabinet shall require the confidence of the 
representatives of the People. 

The principles in accordance with which the representatives of the People 
are chosen apply also to municipal elections ; but by State law a residence 
qualification not exceeding one year of residence in the municipality may be 
imposed in such elections. 


The division of the Commonwealth into States shall serve the highest eco- 
nomic and cultural interests of the People after most thorough consideration of 
the wishes of the population affected. State boundaries may be altered and new 
States may be created within the Commonwealth by the process of constitutional 

With the consent of the States directly affected, it requires only an ordinary 
law of the Commonwealth. 

An ordinary law of the Commonwealth will also suffice, if one of the States 
affected does not consent, provided that the change of boundaries or the creation 
of a new State is desired by the population concerned and is also required by a 
preponderant national interest. 

The wishes of the population shall be ascertained by a referendum. The 
National Cabinet orders a referendum on demand of one-third of the inhabi- 
tants qualified to vote for the National Assembly in the territory to be cut off. 

Three-fifths of the votes cast, but at least a majority of the qualified voters, 
are required for the alteration of a boundary or the creation of a new State. 
Even if a separation of only a part of a Prussian administrative district, a 
Bavarian circle, or, in other States, a corresponding administrative district, is 
involved, the wishes of the population of the whole district must be ascertained. 
If there is no physical contact between the territory to be cut off and the rest of 
the district, the wishes of the population of the district to be cut off may be 
pronounced conclusive by a special law of the Commonwealth. 

After the consent of the population has been ascertained the National Cabinet 
shall introduce into the National Assembly a bill suitable for enactment. 

If any controversy arises over the division of property in connection with 
such a union or separation, it will be determined upon complaint of either party 
by the Supreme Judicial Court of the German Commonwealth. 




If controversies concerning the Constitution arise within a State in which 
there is no court competent to dispose of them, or if controversies of a public 
nature arise between different States or between a State and the Commonwealth, 
they will be determined upon complaint of one of the parties by the Supreme 
Judicial Court of the German Commonwealth, unless another judicial court of 
the Commonwealth is competent. 

The President of the Commonwealth executes judgments of the Supreme 
Judicial Court. 



The National Assembly is composed of the delegates of the German People. 

The delegates are representatives of the whole People. They are subject only 
to their own consciences and are not bound by any instructions. 


The delegates are elected by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage by all 
men and women over twenty years of age, in accordance with the principles of 
proportional representation. The day for elections must be a Sunday or a public 

The details will be regulated by the national election law. 


The National Assembly is elected for four years. New elections must take 
place at the latest on the sixtieth day after its term comes to an end. 

The National Assembly convenes at the latest on the thirtieth day after the 


The National Assembly meets each year on the first Wednesday in November 
at the seat of the National Government. The President of the National Assembly 
must call it earlier if the President of the Commonwealth, or at least one-third 
of the members of the National Assembly, demand it. 

The National Assembly determines the close of its session and the day of 



The President of the Commonwealth may dissolve the National Assembly, bat 
only once for the same cause. 

The new election occurs at the latest on the sixtieth day after such dissolution. 

The National Assembly chooses its President, Vice-President and its Secre- 
taries. It regulates its own procedure. 

During the interval between sessions, or while elections are taking place, the 
President and Vice-President of the preceding session conduct its affairs. 


The President administers the regulations and policing of the National 
Assembly building. The management of the building is subject to his direction; 
he controls its receipts and expenses in accordance with the provisions of the 
budget, and represents the Commonwealth in all legal affairs and in litigation 
arising during his administration. 

The proceedings of the National Assembly are public. At the request of fifty 
members the public may be excluded by a two-thirds vote. 

True and accurate reports of the proceedings in public sittings of the National 
Assembly, of a State Assembly, or of their committees, are absolutely privileged. 


An Electoral Comnussion to decide disputed elections will be organized in 
connection with the National Assembly. It will also decide whether a delegate 
has forfeited his seat. 

The Electoral Commission consists of members of the National Assembly, 
chosen by the latter for the life of the Assembly, and of members of the National 
Administrative Court, to be appointed by the President of the CommoniTealth on 
the nomination of the presidency of this court. 

This Electoral Commission pronounces judgment after public hearings through 
a quorum of three members of the National Assembly and two judicial members. 

Proceedings apart from the hearings before the Electoral Commission will 
be conducted by a National Commissioner appointed by the President of the 



Commonwealth. In other respects the procedore will be regulated by the Elec- 
toral Commission. 


The National Assembly acts by majority vote unless otherwise provided in the 
Constitution. For the conduct of elections by the National Assembly it may, in 
its rules of procedure, make exceptions. 

The quorum to do business will be regulated by the rules of procedure. 


The National Assembly and its committees may require the presence of the 
National Chancellor and of any National Minister. 

The National Chancellor, the National Ministers, and Commissioners desig- 
nated by them, have the right to be present at the sittings of the National 
Assembly and of its committees. The States are entitled to send their plenipb- 
tentiaries to these sittings to submit the views of their Cabinets on matters under 

At their request the representatives of the Cabinets shall be heard during the 
deliberations, and the representatives of the National Cabinet shall be heard 
even outside the regular order of business. 

They are subject to the authority of the presiding officer in matters of order. 


The National Assembly has the right, and, on proposal of one-fifth of its 
members, the duty to appoint conunittees of investigation. These committees, 
in public sittings, inquire into the evidence which they, or the proponents, con- 
sider necessary. The public may be excluded by a two-thirds vote of the com- 
mittee of investigation. The rules of procedure regulate the proceedings of the 
committee and determine the niunber of its members. 

The judicial and administrative authorities are required to comply with 
requests by these committees for information, and the record of the authorities 
shall on request be submitted to them. 

The provisions of the code of criminal procedure apply as far as is suitable 
to the inquiries of these committees and of the authorities assisting them, but 
the secrecy of letter and other post, telegraph, and telephone services will 
remain inviolate. 

The National Assembly appoints a Standing Committee on foreign affairs 
which may also act outside of the sittings of the National Assembly and after 
its expiration or dissolution until a new National Assembly convenes. Its 


sittings are not public, unless the committee by a two-thirds vote otherwise 

The National Assembly also appoints a Standing Committee for the pro- 
tection of the rights of the representatives of the People against the National 
Cabinet during a recess and after the expiration of the term for which it was 

These committees have the rights of committees of investigation. 

No member of the National Assembly or of a State Assembly shall at any 
time whatsoever be subject to any judicial or disciplinary prosecution or be 
held responsible outside of the House to which he belongs on account of his 
vote or his opinions uttered in the performance of his duty. 


No member of the National Assembly or of a State Assembly shall during 
the session, without the consent of the House to which he belongs, be subject to 
investigation or arrest on account of any punishable offense, unless he is caught 
in the act, or apprehended not later than the following day. 

Similar consent is required in the case of any other restraint of personal 
liberty which interferes with the performance by a delegate of his duties. 

Any criminal proceeding against a member of the National Assembly or of a 
State Assembly, and any arrest or other restraint of his personal liberty shall, 
at the demand of the House to which he belongs, be suspended for the duration 
of the session. 


The members of the National Assembly and the State Assemblies are entitled 
to refuse to give evidence concerning persons who have given them information 
in their official capacity, or to whom they have given information in the per- 
formance of their official duties, or concerning the information itself. In regard 
also to the seizure of papers their position is the same as that of persons who 
have by law the right to refuse to give evidence. 

A search or seizure may be proceeded with in the precincts of the National 
Assembly or of a State Assembly only with the consent of its President. 


Civil officers and members of the armed forces need no leave to perform their 
duties as members of the National Assembly or of a State Assembly. 

If they become candidates for election to these bodies, the necessary leave 
shall be granted them to prepare for their election. 




The members of the National Assembly shall have the right of free trans- 
portation over all German railroads, and also compensation as fixed by national 



The National President is chosen by the whole German People. 
Every German who has completed his thirty-fifth year is eligible for election. 
The details will be regulated by a national law. 

The National President, on assuming his office, takes before the National 
Assembly the following oath : \ 

I swear to devote all my energy to the welfare of the German People, to 
increase their prosperity, to protect them from injury, to preserve the Constitution 
and the laws of the Commonwealth, to perform my duties conscientiously, and to 
deal justly with all. 

The addition of a religious affirmation is permitted. 


The term of the National President is seven years. He is eligible for re- 

The President may be removed before the end of his term by vote of the 
People on proposal of the National Assembly. The act of the National Assembly 
in such case requires a two-thirds majority vote. Upon such action the President 
is suspended from further exercise of his office. A refusal by the People to 
remove the President has the effect of a new election and entails the dissolution 
of the National Assembly. 

The National President shall not be subject to criminal prosecution without 
the consent of the National Assembly. 


The National President may not at the same time be a member of the 
National Assembly. 



The National President represents the Commonwealth in matters of inter- 
national law. He concludes in the name of the Commonwealth alliances and 
other treaties with foreign powers. He accredits and receives ambassadors. 

War is declared and peace concluded by national law. 

Alliances and treaties with foreign States, relating to subjects within the 
jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, require the consent of the National Assembly. 


The President appoints and dismisses the civil and military officers of the 
Commonwealth if not otherwise provided by law. He may delegate this right of 
appointment or dismissal to other authorities. 


The National President has supreme command over all the armed forces of 
the Commonwealth. 


If any State does not perform the duties imposed upon it by the Constitution 
or by national laws, the National President may hold it to the performance there- 
of by force of arms. . . 

If public safety and order in the German Commonwealth is materially dis- 
turbed or endangered, the National President may take the necessary measures 
to restore public safety and order, and, if necessary, to intervene by force of 
arms. To this end he may temporarily suspend, in whole or in part, the funda- 
mental rights established in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123. 124 and 153. 

The National President must immediately inform the National Assembly of 
all measures adopted by authority of Paragraphs i or 2 of this Article. These 
measures shall be revoked at the demand of the National Assembly. 

If there is danger from delay, the State Cabinet may for its own territory 
take provisional measures as specified in Paragraph 2. These measures shall be 
revoked at the demand of the National President or of the National Assembly. 

The details will be regulated by a national law. 

The National President exercises the right of pardon for the Commonwealth. 
National amnesties require a national law. 


All orders and directions of the National President, including those concern- 
ing the armed forces, require for their validity the countersignature of the 


National Chancellor or of the appropriate National Minister. By the counter- 
signature responsibility is assumed. 


The National President is represented temporarily in case of disability by 
the National Chancellor. If such disability seems likely to continue for any 
considerable period, he shall be represented as may be determined by a national 

The same procedure shall be followed in case of a premature vacancy of the 
Presidency until the completion of the new election. 

The National Cabinet consists of the National Chancellor and the National 

The National Chancellor and, on his proposal, the National Ministers are 
appointed and dismissed by the National President. 

The National Chancellor and the National Ministers require for the admin- 
istration of their offices the confidence of the National Assembly. Each of them 
must resign if the National Assembly by formal resolution withdraws its 

The National Chancellor presides over the National Cabinet and conducts 
its affairs in accordance with rules of procedure, which will be framed by the 
National Cabinet and approved by the National President. 


The National Chancellor determines the general course of policy and assumes 

responsibility therefor to the National Assembly. In accordance with this general 

policy each National Minister conducts independently the particular affairs 

intrusted to him and is held individually responsible to the National Assembly. 

The National Ministers shall submit to the National Cabinet for considera- 
tion and decision all drafts of bills and other matters for which this procedure 
is prescribed by the Constitution or by law, as well as differences of opinion 
over questions which concern the departments of several National Ministers. 

. 305 


The National Cabinet will make its decisions by majority vote. In case of a 
tie the vote of the presiding officer will be decisive. 

The National Assembly is empowered to impeach the National President, the 
National Chancellor, and the National Ministers before the Supreme Judicial 
Court of the German Commonwealth for any wrongful violation of the Consti- 
tution or laws of the Commonwealth. The proposal to bring an impeachment 
must be signed by at least one hundred members of the National Assembly and 
requires the approval of the majority prescribed for amendments to the Consti- 
tution. The details will be regulated by the national law relating to the Supreme 
Judicial Court. 



A National Council will be organized to represent the German States in 
national legislation and administration. 

In the National Council each State has at least one vote. In the case of the 
larger States one vote is accorded for every million inhabitants. Any excess 
equal at least to the population of the smallest State is reckoned as equivalent 
to a full million. No State shall be accredited with more than two-fifths of all 

[German-Austria after its union with the German Commonwealth will receive 
the right of participation in the National Council with the number of votes 
corresponding to its population. Until that time the representatives of German- 
Austria have a deliberate voice.] ^ 


* Stricken out at the demand of the Supreme Council of the Allied and Asso- 
ciated Powers. The Supreme Council addressed the following demand to Germany 
on September 2, 19 19 : 

"The Allied and Associated Powers have examined the German Constitution 
of August II, 1919. They observe that the provisions of the second i>aragraph 
of Article 61 constitute a formal violation of Article 80 of the Treaty of Peace 
signed at Versailles on June 28, 19 19. This violation is twofold: 

"1. Article 61 by stipulating for the admission of Austria to the Reichsrat 
assimilates that Republic to the German States composing the German Empire 



The number of votes is determined anew by the National Council after every 
general census. 


In committees formed by the National Council from its own members no 
State will have more than one vote. 

The States will be represented in the National Council by members of their, 

— an assimilation which is incompatible with respect to the independence of 

"2. By admitting and providing for the participation of Austria in the Council 
of the Empire Article 61 creates a political tie and a common political action 
between Germany and Austria in absolute opposition to the independence of 
the latter. 

"In consequence the Allied and Associated Powers, after reminding the Ger- 
man Government that Article 178 of the German Constitution declares that 
'the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles can not be affected by the Constitution,' 
invite the German Government to take the necessary measures to efface without 
delay this violation by declaring Article 61, Paragraph 2, to be null and void. 

"Without prejudice to subsequent measures in case of refusal, and in virtue 
of the Treaty of Peace (and in particular Article 29), the Allied and Associated 
Powers inform the German Government that this violation of its engagements 
on an essential point will compel them, if satisfaction is not given to their 
just demand within 15 days from the date of the present note, immediately to 
order the extension of their occupation on the right bank of the Rhine." 

Article 29 of the Treaty of Peace refers to Map No. i which shows the boun- 
daries of Germany and provides that the text of Articles 27 and 28 will be final 
as to those boundaries. Article 80 reads as follows : 

"Germany acknowledges and will respect strictly the independence of Austria, 
within the frontiers which may be fixed in a Treaty between that State and the 
Principal Allied and Associated Powers ; she agrees that this independence shall 
be inalienable, except with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations." 

A diplomatic act was signed at Paris on September 22, 1919, by the repre- 
sentatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Germany in the 
following terms : 

"The undersigned, duly authorized and acting in the name of the German 
Government, recognizes and declares that all the provisions of the German Con- 
stitution of August II, 19 19, which are in contradiction of the terms of the 
Treaty of Peace signed at Versailles on June 28, 19 19, are null. 

"The German Government declares and recognizes that in consequence Para- 
graph 2 of Article 61 of the said Constitution is null, and that in particular the 
admission of Austrian representatives to the Reichstag could only take place 
in the event of the consent of the Council of the League of Nations to a corre- 
sponding modification of Austria's international situation. 

"The present declaration shall be approved by the competent German legis- 
lative authority, within the fortnight following the entry into force of the 
Peace Treaty. 

"Given at Versailles, September 22, 19 19, in the presence of the undersigned 
representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers." 


Cabinets. Half of the Prussian votes, however, ■will be at the disposal of the 
Prussian provincial administrations in accordance with a State law. 

The States have the right to send as many representatives to the National 
Council as they have votes. 


The National Cabinet must summon the National Council on demand by 
one-third of its members. 


The chairmanship of the National Council and of its committees is filled by 
a member of the National Cabinet. The members of the National Cabinet have 
the right and on request [of the National Council] the duty to take part in the 
proceedings of the National Council and its committees. They must at their 
request be heard at any time during its deliberations. 


The National Cabinet, as well as every member of the National Council, is 
entitled to make proposals in the National Council. 

The National Council regulates its order of business through rules of pro- 

The plenary sittings of the National Council are public. In accordance with 
the rules of procedure the public may be excluded during the discussion of par- 
ticular subjects. 

Decisions are taken by a majority of those present. 

The National Council shall be kept informed by the National Departments 
of the conduct of national business. At deliberations on important subjects the 
appropriate committees of the National Council shall be summoned by the 
National Departments. 


Bills are introduced by the National Cabinet or by members of the National 

National laws are enacted by the National Assembly. 




The introduction of bills by the National Cabinet requires the concurrence of 
the National Council. If an agreement between the National Cabinet and the 
National Council is not reached, the National Cabinet may nevertheless intro- 
duce the bill, but must state the dissent of the National Council. 

If the National Council resolves upon a bill to which the National Cabinet 
does not assent, the latter must introduce the bill in the National Assembly 
together with a statement of its attitude. 

The National President shall compile the laws which have been constitution- 
ally enacted and within one month publish them in the National Bulletin of 

National laws go into effect, unless otherwise specified, on the fourteenth day 
following the date of their publication in the National Bulletin of Laws at the 
national capital. 


The promulgation of a national law may be deferred for two months, if one- 
third of the National Assembly so demands. Laws which the National Assembly 
and the National Council declare to be urgent may be promulgated by the 
National President regardless of this demand. 


A law enacted by the National Assembly shall be referred to the People before 
its promulgation, if the National President so orders within a month. 

A law whose promulgation is deferred at the demand of at least one-third of 
the National Assembly shall be submitted to the People, if one-twentieth of the 
qualified voters so petition. 

A popular vote shall further be resorted to on a measure initiated by the 
People if one-tenth of the qualified voters so petition. A fully elaborated bill 
must accompany such petition. The National Cabinet shall lay the bill together 
with a statement of its attitude before the National Assembly. The popular 
vote does not take place if the desired bill is enacted without amendment by the 
National Assembly. 

A popular vote may be taken on the budget, tax laws, and laws relating to 
the classification and payment of public officers only by authority of the National 

The procedure in connection with the popular referendum and initiative will 
be regulated by national law. 



The National Council has the right to object to laws passed by the National 

The objection must be filed with the National Cabinet within two weeks 
after the final vote in the National Assembly and must be supported by reasons 
within two more weeks at the latest. 

In case of objection, the law is returned to the National Assembly for recon- 
sideration. If an agreement between the National Assembly and the National 
Council is not reached, the National President may within three months refer 
the subject of the dispute to the People. If the President makes no use of this 
right, the law does not go into effect. If the National Assembly disapproves by 
a two-thirds majority the objection of the National Council, the President shall 
promulgate the law in the form enacted by the National Assembly within three 
months or refer it to the People. 

An act of the National Assembly may be annulled by a popular vote, only if a 
majority of those qualified take part in the vote. 


The Constitution may be amended by process of legislation. But acts of the 
National Assembly relating to the amendment of the Constitution are effective 
only if two-thirds of the legal membership are present, and at least two-thirds 
of those present give their assent. Acts of the National Council relating to the 
amendment of the Constitution also require a two-thirds majority of all the « 
votes cast. If an amendment to the Constitution is to be adopted by the People 
by popular initiative, the assent of a majority of the qualified voters is required. 

If the National Assembly adopts an amendment to the Constitution against the 
objection of the National Council, the President may not promulgate this law, 
if the National Council within two weeks demands a popular vote. 

The National Cabinet issues the general administrative regulations necessary 
for the execution of the national laws so far as the laws do not otherwise pro- 
vide. It must secure the assent of the National Council if the execution of the 
national laws is assigned to the State authorities. 






The conduct of relations with foreign countries is exclusively a function of 
the Commonwealth. 

The States, in matters subject to their jurisdiction, may conclude treaties 
with foreign countries ; such treaties require the assent of the Commonwealth. 

Agreements with foreign countries regarding changes of national boundaries 
will be concluded by the Commonwealth with the consent of the State concerned. 
Changes of boundaries may be made only by authority of a national law, except in 
cases where a mere adjustment of the boundaries of uninhabited districts is in 

To assure the representation of interests arising from the special economic 
relations of individual States to foreign countries or from their proximity to 
foreign countries, the Commonwealth determines the requisite arrangements 
and measures in agreement with the States concerned. 

The national defense is a function of the Commonwealth. The organization 
of the German People for defense will be uniformly regulated by a national 
law with due consideration for the peculiarities of the people of the separate 


Colonial policy is exclusively a function of the Commonwealth. 

All German merchant ships constitute a unified merchant marine. 


Germany forms a customs and trade area surrounded by a common customs 

The customs boundary is identical with the international boundary. At the 
seacoast the shore of the mainland and of the islands belonging to the national 
territory constitutes the customs boundary. Deviations may be made for the 
course of the customs boundary at the ocean and at other bodies of water. 

Foreign territories or parts of territories may be incorporated in the customs 
area by international treaties or agreements. 

Portions of territory may be excluded from the customs area in accordance 


with special requirements. In the case of free ports this exclusion may be dis- 
continued only by an amendment to the Constitution. 

Districts excluded from the customs area may be included within a foreign 
customs area by international treaties or agreements. 

All products of nature or industry, as well as works of art, which are subjects 
of free commerce within the Commonwealth, may be transported in any direction 
across State and municipal boundaries. Exceptions are permissible by authority 
of national law. 


Customs duties and taxes on articles of consumption are administered by the 
national authorities. 

In connection with national tax administration by the national authorities, 
arrangements shall be provided which will enable the States to protect their 
special agricultural, commercial, trade and industrial interests. 


The Commonwealth has authority to regulate by law : 

1. The organization of the State tax administrations so far as is required 
for the uniform and impartial execution of the national tax laws ; 

2. The organization and functions of the authorities charged with the 
supervision of the execution of the national tax laws ; 

3. The accounting with the States ; 

4. The reimbursement of the costs of administration in connection with the 
execution of the national tax laws. 


All revenues and expenditures of the Commonwealth must be estimated for 
each fiscal year and entered in the budget. 

The budget is adopted by law before the beginning of the fiscal year. 

Appropriations are ordinarily granted for one year ; in special cases they may 
be granted for a longer period. Otherwise, provisions extending beyond the 
fiscal year or not relating to the national revenues and expenditures or their 
administration, are inadmissible in the national budget law. 

The National Assembly may not increase appropriations in the budget bill or 
insert new items without the consent of the National Council. 

The consent of the National Council may be dispensed with in accordance 
with the provisions of Article 74. 

In the following fiscal year the National Minister of Finance will submit to 
the National Council and to the National Assembly an account concerning the 



disposition of all national revenue so as to discharge the responsibility of the 
National Cabinet. The auditing of this account will be regulated by national law. 


Funds may be procured by borrowing only in case of extraordinary need and 
in general for expenditures for productive purposes only. Such procurement of 
funds as well a^ the assumption by the Commonwealth of any financial obligation 
is permissible only by authority of a national law. 


The postal and telegraph services, together with the telephone service, are 
exclusively functions of the Commonwealth. 

The postage stamps are uniform for the whole Commonwealth. 

The National Cabinet, with the consent of the National Council, issues the 
regulations prescribing the conditions and charges for the use of the means 
of communication. With the consent of the National Council it may delegate 
this authority to the Postmaster General. 

The National Cabinet, with the consent of the National Council, establishes 
an advisory council to co-operate in deliberations concerning the postal, tele- 
graph and telephone services and rates. 

The Commonwealth alone concludes treaties relating to communication with 
foreign countries. 


It is the duty of the Commonwealth to acquire ownership of the railroads 
which serve as means of general public communication, and to operate them as a 
single system of transportation. 

The rights of the States to acquire private railroads shall be transferred 
to the Commonwealth on its demand. 

With the taking over of the railroads the Commonwealth also acquires the 
right of expropriation and the sovereign powers of the States pertaining to 
railroad affairs. The Supreme Judicial Court decides controversies relating to 
the extent of these rights. 


The National Cabinet, with the consent of the National Council, issues the 
regulations governing the construction, operation and traffic of railroads. With 
the consent of the National Council it may delegate this authority to the ap- 
propriate national minister. 


The national railroads, irrespective of the incorporation of their budget and 
accounts in the general budget and accounts of the Commonwealth, shall be 
administered as an independent economic enterprise which shall defray its own 
expenses, including interest and the amortization of the railroad debt, and 
accumulate a railroad reserve fund. The amount of the amortization and of the 
reserve fund, as well as the purpose to which the reserve fund may be applied, 
shall be regulated by special law. 


The National Cabinet with the consent of the National Council establishes 
advisory councils for the national railroads to co-operate in deliberations con- 
cerning railroad service and rates. 


If the Commonwealth takes over the operation of railroads which serve as 
means of general public communication in any district, additional railroads to 
serve as means of general public communication within this district may only be 
built by the Commonwealth or with its consent. If new construction or the altera- 
tion of existing national railroad systems encroaches upon the sphere of authority 
of the State police, the national railroad administration, before its decision, 
shall grant a hearing to the State authorities. 

Where the Commonwealth has not yet taken over the operation of the rail- 
roads, it may lay out on its own account by virtue of national law railroads 
deemed necessary to serve as means of general public communication or for the 
national defense, even against the opposition of the States, whose territory they 
will traverse, without, however, impairing the sovereign powers of the States, 
or it may turn over the construction to another to execute, together with a grant 
of the right of expropriation if necessary. 

Each railroad administration must consent to connection with other roads at 
the expense of the latter. 


Railroads serving as means of general public communication which are not 
operated by the Commonwealth are subject to supervision by the Commonwealth. 

The railroads subject to national supervision shall be laid out and equipped 
in accordance with uniform standards established by the Commonwealth. They 
shall be maintained in safe operating condition and developed according to the 
requirements of traffic, facilities and equipment for passenger and freight 
traffic shall be maintained and developed in keeping with the demand. 

The supervision of rates is designed to secure non-discriminatory and moderate 
railroad charges. 


All railroads, including those not serving as means of general public com- 
munication, must comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth so far 
as concerns the use of the roads for purposes of national defense. 


It is the duty of the Commonwealth to acquire ownership of and to operate 
all waterways serving as means of general public communication. 

After they have been taken over, waterways serving as means of general 
public communication may be constructed or extended only by the Common- 
wealth or with its consent. 

In the administration, development, or construction of such waterways the 
requirements of agriculture and water-supply shall be protected in agreement 
with the States. Their improvement shall also be considered. 

Each waterways administration shall consent to connection with other inland 
waterways at the expense of the latter. The same obligation exists for the con- 
struction of a connection between inland waterways and railroads. 

In taking over the waterways the Commonwealth acquires the right of ex- 
propriation, control of rates, and the police power over waterways and navigation. 

The duties of the river improvement associations in relation to the develop- 
ment of natural waterways in the Rhine, Weser, and Elbe basins shall be as- 
sumed by the Commonwealth. 

Advisory national waterways councils will be formed in accordance with 
detailed regulations issued by the National Cabinet with the consent of the 
National Council to co-operate in the management of the waterways. 


Charges may be imposed on natural waterways only for such works, facilities, 
and other accommodations as are designed for the relief of traffic. In the case of 
state and municipal public works they may not exceed the necessary costs of 
construction and maintenance. The construction and maintenance costs of works 
designed not exclusively for the relief of traffic, but also for serving other pur- 
poses, may be defrayed only to a proportionate extent by navigation tolls. Interest 
and amortization charges on the invested capital are included in the costs of 

The provisions of the preceding paragraph apply to the charges imposed for 
artificial waterways and for accommodations in connection therewith and in 

The total costs of a waterway, a river basin, or a system of waterways may be 


taken into consideration in determining navigation tolls in the field of inland 
water transportation. 

These provisions apply also to the floating of timber on navigable waterways. 

Only the Commonwealth imposes on foreign ships and their cargoes other or 
higher charges than on German ships and their cargoes. 

For the procurement of means for the maintenance and development of the 
German system of waterways the Commonwealth may by law call on the 
shipping interests for contributions also in other ways [than by tolls] . 

To cover the cost of maintenance and construction of inland navigation routes 
any person or body of persons who in other ways than through navigation de- 
rives profit from the construction of dams may also be called upon by national 
law for contributions, if several States are involved or the Commonwealth bears 
the costs of construction. 

It is the duty of the Commonwealth to acquire ownership of and to operate all 
aids to navigation, especially lighthouses, lightships, buoys, floats and beacons. 
After they are taken over, aids to navigation may be installed or extended only 
by the Commonwealth or with its consent. 



Judges are independent and subject only to the law. 

Ordinary jurisdiction will be exercised by the National Judicial Court and 
the courts of the States. 


Judges of ordinary jurisdiction are appointed for life. They may against 
their wishes be permanently or temporarily removed from office, or transferred 
to another position, or retired, only by virtue of a judicial decision and for the 
reasons and in the forms provided by law. The law may fix an age limit on 
reaching which judges may be retired. 

Temporary suspension from office in accordance with law is not affected by 
this Article. 


If there is a re-organization of the courts or of the judicial districts, the 
State department of justice may order involuntary transfers to another court or 
removal from office, but only with allowance of full salary. 

These provisions do not apply to judges of commercial tribunals, lay associ- 
ates, and jurymen. 

Extraordinary courts are illegal. No one may be removed from the jurisdic- 
tion of his lawful judge. Provisions of law relating to military courts and 
courts-martial are not affected hereby. Military courts of honor are abolished. 

Military jurisdiction is abolished except in time of war and on board war- 
vessels. Details will be regulated by national law. 

There shall be administrative courts both in the Commonwealth and in the 
States, in accordance with the laws, to protect the individual against orders 
and decrees of administrative authorities. 

In accordance with a national law a Supreme Judicial Court will be estab- 
lished for the German Commonwealth. 


Fundamental Rights and Duties of Germans. 




All Germans are equal before the law. 

Men and women have fundamentally the same civil rights and duties. 

Privileges or discriminations due to birth or rank and recognized by law are 
abolished. Titles of nobility will be regarded merely as part of the name and may 
not be granted hereafter. 

Titles may be conferred only when they designate an oflSce or profession; 
academic degrees are not affected by this provision. 


Orders and honorary insignia may not be conferred by the state. 

No German may accept a title or order from a foreign Government. 


Citizenship in the Commonwealth and in the States will be acquired and 
lost in accordance with the provisions of a national law. Every citizen of a 
State is at the same time a citizen of the Commonwealth. 

Every German has the same rights and duties in each State of the Common- 
wealth as the citizens of that State. 


All Germans enjoy the right to travel and reside freely throughout the whole 

Commonwealth. Everyone has the right of sojourn and settlement in any place 

within the Commonwealth, the right to acquire land and to pursue any gainful 

occupation. No limitations may be imposed except by authority of a national law. 


Every German has the right to emigrate to foreign countries. Emigration 
may be limited only by national law. 

All German citizens, both within and without the territory of the Common- 
wealth, have a right to its protection with respect to foreign countries. 

No German may be surrendered to a foreign Government for prosecution or 

Those elements of the People which speak a foreign language may not be 
interfered with by legislative or administrative action in their free and charac- 
teristic development, especially in the use of their mother tongue in the schools 
or in matters of internal administration and the administration of justice. 


Personal liberty is inviolable. An interference with or abridgment of per- 
sonal liberty through official action is permissible only by authority of law. 

Persons, who are deprived of their liberty, shall be informed at latest on the 
following day by what authority and on what grounds they have been deprived 
of liberty, and they shall without delay receive an opportunity to present objec- 
tions against such loss of liberty. 

The house of every German is his sanctuary and is inviolable. Exceptions are 
I)ermissible only by authority of law. 


An act can be punishable only if the penalty was fixed by law before the act 
was committed. 


The secrecy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications is in- 
violable. Exceptions may be permitted only by national law. 


Every German has a right within the limits of the general laws to express 
his opinion freely by word, in writing, in print, by picture, or in any other way. 
No relationship arising out of his employment may hinder him in the exercise 
of this right, and no one may discriminate against him if he makes use of this 

There is no censorship, although exceptional provisions may be made by 
law in the case of moving pictures. Legal measures are also permissible for 
combatting obscene and indecent literature as well as for tl^e protection of 
youth at public plays and spectacles. 



Marriage, as the foundation of family life and of the maintenance and increase 
of the nation, is under the special protection of the Constitution. It is based 
on the equal rights of both sexes. 

The maintenance of the purity, the health, and the social advancement of the 
family is the task of the state and of the municipalities. Families with numerous 
children have a claim to equalizing assistance. 

Motherhood has a claim to the protection and care of the State. 

The physical, mental, and moral education of their offspring is the highest 
duty and the natural right of parents, whose activities are supervised by the 
political community. 


Illegitimate children shall be provided by law with the same opportunities 
for their physical, mental, and moral development as legitimate children. 



Youth shall be protected against exploitation as well as against neglect of 
their moral, mental, or physical welfare. The necessary arrangements shall be 
made by state and municipality. 

Compulsory protective measures may be ordered only by authority of the law. 


All Germans have the right of meeting peaceably and unarmed without notice 
or special permission. 

Previous notice may be required by national law for meetings in the open, 
and such meetings may be forbidden in case of immediate danger to the public 


All Germans have the right to form associations or societies for purposes not 
contrary to the criminal law. This right can not be limited by preventive meas- 
ures. The same provisions apply to religious associations and societies. 

Every association has the right of incorporation in accordance with the civil 
law. No association may be denied this right on the ground that it pursues a 
political, social-political, or religious object. 

The liberty and secrecy of the suffrage are guaranteed. Details will be regu- 
lated by the election laws. 

Every German has the right to petition or to complain in writing to the appro- 
priate authorities or to the representatives of the People. This right may be 
exercised by individuals as well as by several persons together. 

Municipalities and unions of municipalities have the right of self-government 
within the limits of the laws. 

All citizens without distinction are eligible for public office in accordance with 
the laws and according to their ability and services. 

All discriminations against women in the civil service are abolished. 
The principles of the official relation shall be regulated by national law. 

Civil officers are appointed for life, in so far as is not otherwise provided by 
law. Pensions and provisions for surviving dependents will be regulated by law. 



The duly acquired rights of the civil officers are inviolable. Claims of civil 
officers based upon property rights may be established by process of law. 

Civil officers may be suspended, temporarily or permanently retired, or trans- 
ferred to other positions at a smaller salary only under the legally prescribed 
conditions and forms. 

A process of appeal against disciplinary sentence and opportunity for recon- 
sideration shall be established. Reports of an unfavorable character concerning 
a civil officer shall not be entered in his official record, until he has had the 
opportunity to express himself. Civil officers shall also be permitted to inspect 
their official records. 

The inviolability of the duly acquired rights and the benefit of legal processes 
for the establishment of claims based on property rights are also assured 
especially to regular soldiers. In other respects their position is regulated by 
national law. 

The civil officers are servants of the whole community, not of a part of it. 
To all civil officers freedom of political opinion and of association are assured. 
The civil officers receive special representation in their official capacity in 
accordance with more precise provisions of national law. 


If a civil officer in the exercise of the authority conferred upon him by law 
fails to perform his official duty toward any third person, the responsibility is 
assumed by the state or public corporation in whose service the officer is. The 
right of redress [by the state or public corporation] against the officer is reserved. 
The ordinary process of law may not be excluded. 

Detailed regulations will be made by the appropriate law-making authority. 


Every German, in accordance with the laws, has the duty of accepting honor- 
ary offices. 


All citizens are obliged, in accordance with the laws, to render personal 
services to the state and the municipality. 

The duty of military service will be defined in accordance with the pro- 
visions of the national defense law. This will determine also how far particular 
fundamental rights shall be restricted in their application to the members of 
the armed forces in order that the latter may fulfill their duties and discipline 
may be maintained. 



All citizens, without distinction, contribute according to their means to the 
support of all public burdens, as may be provided by law. 


All inhabitants of the Commonwealth enjoy complete liberty of belief and 
conscience. The free exercise of religion is assured by the Constitution and is 
under public protection. This Article leaves the general laws undisturbed. 


Civil and political rights and duties are neither conditioned upon nor limited 
by the exercise of religious liberty. 

The enjoyment of civil and political rights as well as eligibility to public 
office is independent of religious belief. 

No one is under any obligation to reveal his religious convictions. 

The authorities have a right to inquire about religious affiliation only so far as 
rights and duties are dependent thereon or in pursuance of a statistical enumera- 
tion prescribed by law. 

No one may be forced to attend any church ceremony or festivity, to take 
part in any religious exercise, or to make use of any religious oath. 


There is no state church. 

Freedom of association in religious societies is guaranteed. The combination 
of religious societies within the Commonwealth is not subject to any limitations. 

Every religious society regulates and administers its affairs independently 
within the limits of the general law. It appoints its officers without interference 
by the state or the civil municipality. 

Religious societies may be incorporated in accordance with the general pro- 
visions of the civil law. 

Existing religious societies remain, to the same extent as heretofore, public 
bodies corporate. The same rights shall be accorded to other religious societies 
if by their constitution and the number of their members they offer a guaranty 
of permanence. If a number of such public religious societies unite, this union 
is also a public body corporate. 

The religious societies, which are recognized by law as bodies corporate, are 
entitled on the basis of the civil tax rolls to raise taxes according to the pro- 
visions of the laws of the respective States. 



The associations, which have as their aim the cultivation of a system of ethics, 
have the same privileges as the religious societies. 

The issuance of further regulations necessary for carrying out these pro- 
visions comes under the jurisdiction of the States. 


State contributions to religious societies authorized by law, contract, or any 
special grant, will be commuted by State legislation. The general principles of 
such legislation will be defined by the Commonwealth. 

The property of religious societies and unions and other rights to their cul- 
tural, educational, and charitable institutions, foundations, and other posses- 
sions are guaranteed. 

Sundays and legal holidays remain under the protection of law as days of 
rest and spiritual edification. 


The members of the armed forces shall be granted the necessary leave for 
the performance of their religious duties. 

In so far as there is need for religious services and spiritual care in hospitals, 
prisons or other public institutions, the religious societies shall be permitted to 
perform the religious offices, but all compulsion shall be avoided. 


Art, science and the teaching thereof are free. The state guarantees their pro- 
tection and takes part in fostering them. 


The education of the young shall be provided for through public institutions. 
In their establishment the Commonwealth, States and municipalities co-oi>erate. 

The training of teachers shall be regulated in a uniform manner for the 
Commonwealth according to the generally recognized principles of higher 

The teachers in the public schools have the rights and duties of state oflScers. 


The entire school system is under the supervision of the state ; it may grant 
a share therein to the municipalities. The supervision of schools will be exer- 
cised by technically trained officers who must devote their time principally to 
this duty. 

Attendance at school is obligatory. This obligation is discharged by attend- 
ance at the elementary schools for at least eight school years and at the con- 
tinuation schools until the completion of the eighteenth year. Instruction and 
school supplies in the elementary and continuation schools are free. 


The public school system shall be systematically organized. Upon a founda- 
tion of common elementary schools the system of secondary and higher educa- 
tion is erected. The development of secondary and higher education shall be 
determined in accordance with the needs of all kinds of occupations, and the 
acceptance of a child in a particular school shall depend upon his qualifications 
and inclinations, not upon the economic and social position or the religion of 
his parents. 

Nevertheless, within the municipalities, upon the petition of those entitled 
to instruction common schools shall be established of their faith or ethical 
system, in so far as this does not interfere with a system of school administra- 
tion within the meaning of Paragraph i. The wishes of those entitled to instruc- 
tion shall be considered as much as possible. Details will be regulated by State 
laws in accordance with principles to be prescribed by a national law. 

To facilitate the attendance of those in poor circumstances at the secondary 
and higher schools, public assistance shall be provided by the Commonwealth, 
States, and municipalities, particularly, assistance to the parents of children 
regarded as qualified for training in the secondary and higher schools, until the 
completion of the training. 


Private schools, as a substitute for the public schools, require the approval of 
the state and are subject to the laws of the States. Approval shall be granted if 
the private schools do not fall below the public schools in their educational 
aims and equipment as well as in the scientific training of their teachers, and 
if no separation of the pupils according to the wealth of their parents is fostered. 
Approval shall be withheld if the economic and legal status of the teacher is 
not sufficiently assured. 

Private elementary schools shall be only permissible, if for a minority of those 
entitled to instruction whose wishes are to be considered according to Article 



146, Paragraph 2, there is no public elementary school of their faith or ethical 
system in the municipality, or if the educational administration recognizes a 
special pedagogical interest. 

Private preparatory schools shall be abolished. 

The existing law remains in effect with respect to private schools which do 
not serve as substitutes for public schools. 


All schools shall inculcate moral education, civic sentiment, and personal and 
vocational efficiency in the spirit of German national culture and of international 

In the instruction in public schools care shall be taken not to hurt the feelings 
of those of differing opinion. 

Civics and manual training are included in the school curriculum. Every 
pupil receives a copy of the Constitution on completing the obligatory course of 

The common school system, including university extension work, shall be 
cherished by the Commonwealth, States and municipalities. 


Religious instruction is included in the regular school curriculum, except,- in 
the nonsectarian (secular) schools. The imparting of religious instruction is 
regulated by the school laws. Religious instruction is imparted in accordance 
with the principles of the religious society concerned, without prejudice to the 
right of supervision of the state. 

The imparting of religious instruction and the use of ecclesiastical cere- 
monies is optional with the teachers, and the participation of the pupils in 
religious studies and in ecclesiastical ceremonies and festivities is left to the de- 
cision of those who have the right to control the religious education of the child. 

The theological faculties in the universities will be continued. 


The artistic, historical and natural monuments and scenery enjoy the pro- 
tection and care of the state. 

The prevention of the removal of German art treasures from the country is a 
function of the Commonwealth. 






The regulation of economic life must conform to the principles of justice, 
with the object of assuring humane conditions of life for all. Within these limits 
the economic liberty of the individual shall be protected. 

Legal compulsion is permissible only for safeguarding threatened rights or in 
the service of predominant requirements of the common welfare. 

The freedom of trade and industry is guaranteed in accordance with the 
national laws. 

Freedom of contract prevails in economic relations in accordance with the laws. 
Usury is forbidden. Legal practices which conflict with good morals are void. 


The right of private property is guaranteed by the Constitution. Its nature 
and limits are defined by law. 

Expropriation may be proceeded with only for the benefit of the community 
and by due process of law. There shall be just compensation in so far as is not 
otherwise provided by national law. If there is a dispute over the amount of 
the compensation, there shall be a right of appeal to the ordinary courts, in so far 
as not otherwise provided by national law. The property of the States, munici- 
palities, and associations of public utility may be taken by the Commonwealth 
only upon payment of compensation. 

Property-rights imply property-duties. Exercise thereof shall at the same time 
serve the general welfare. 

The right of inheritance is guaranteed in accordance with the civil law. 
The share of the state in inheritances is determined in accordance with the 

The distribution and use of the land is supervised by the state in such a way 
as to prevent its misuse and to promote the object of insuring to every German a 
healthful dwelling and to all German families, especially those with numerous 
children, homesteads corresponding to their needs. War-veterans shall receive 
special consideration in the enactment of a homestead law. 



Landed property, the acquisition of -which is necessary to satisfy the demand 
for housing, to promote settlement and reclamation, or to improve agriculture, 
may be expropriated. Entailments shall be dissolved. 

The cultivation and utilization of the soil is a duty of the land-owner 
toward the community. An increase of the value of land arising without the 
application of labor or capital to the property shall inure to the benefit of the 
community as a whole. 

All mineral resources and all economically useful forces of nature are subject 
to the control of the state. Private royalties shall be transferred to the state, as 
may be provided by law. 


The Commonwealth may by law, without impairment of the right to compen- 
sation, and with a proper application of the regulations relating to expropriation, 
transfer to public ownership private business enterprises adapted for socializa- 
tion. The Commonwealth itself, the States, or the municipalities may take part 
in the management of business enterprises and associations, or secure a domi- 
nating influence therein in any other way. 

Furthermore, in case of urgent necessity the Commonwealth, if it is in the 
interest of collectivism, may combine by law business enterprises and associations 
on the basis of administrative autonomy, in order to insure the co-operation of 
all producing elements of the people, to give to employers and employees a share 
in the management, and to regulate the production, preparation, distribution, 
utilization and pecuniary valuation, as well as the import and export, of eco- 
nomic goods upon collectivistic principles. 

The co-operative societies of producers and of consumers and associations 
thereof shall be incorporated, at their request and after consideration of their 
form of organization and peculiarities, into the system of collectivism. 

Labor is under the special protection of the Commonwealth. 
The Commonwealth will adopt a uniform labor law. 


Intellectual labor, the rights of the author, the inventor and the artist enjoy 
the protection and care of the Commonwealth. 

The products of German scholarship, art, and technical science shall also be 
recognized and protected abroad through international agreement. 

The right of combination for the protection and promotion of labor and 
economic conditions is guaranteed to everybody and to all professions. All 


agreements and measures which attempt to limit or restrain this liberty are 

Any one employed on a salary or as a wage earner has the right to the leave 
necessary for the exercise of his civil rights and, so far as the business is not 
substantially injured thereby, for performing the duties of public honorary 
offices conferred upon him. To what extent his right to compensation shall con- 
tinue will be determined by law. 

For the purpose of conserving health and the ability to work, of protecting 
motherhood, and of guarding against the ecpnomic effects of age, invalidity and 
the vicissitudes of life, the Commonwealth will adopt a comprehensive system of 
insurance, in the management of which the insured shall predominate. 

The Commonwealth commits itself to an international regulation of the legal 
status of the workers, which shall strive for a standard minimum of social rights 
for the whole working class of the world. 


Every German has, without prejudice to his personal liberty, the moral duty 
so to use his intellectual and physical powers as is demanded by the welfare of 
the community. 

Every German shall have the opportunity to earn his living by economic 
labor. So long as suitable employment can not be procured for him, his main- 
tenance will be provided for. Details will be regulated by special national laws. 

'article 164 
The independent agricultral, industrial, and commercial middle class shall be 
fostered by legislation and administration, and shall be protected against op- 
pression and exploitation. 


Wage-earners and salaried employees are qualified to co-operate on equal 
terms with the employers in the regulation of wages and working conditions, as 
well as in the entire economic development of the productive forces. The organi- 
zations on both sides and the agreements between them will be recognized. 

The wage-earners and salaried employees are entitled to be represented in 
local workers' councils, organized for each establishment in the locality, as well 
as in district workers' councils, organized for each economic area, and in a 



National Workers' Council, for the purpose of looking after their social and 
economic interests. 

The district workers' councils and the National Workers' Council meet 
together with the representatives of the employers and with other interested 
classes of people in district economic councils and in a National Economic 
Council for the purpose of performing joint economic tasks and co-operating in 
the execution of the laws of socialization. The district economic councils and the 
National Economic Council shall be so constituted that all substantial vocational 
groups are represented therein according to their economic and social importance. 

Drafts of laws of fundamental importance relating to social and economic 
policy before introduction [into the National Assembly] shall be submitted by 
the National Cabinet to the National Economic Council for consideration. The 
National Economic Council has the right itself to propose such measures for 
enactment into law. If the National Cabinet does not approve them, it shall, 
nevertheless, introduce them into the National Assembly together with a state- 
ment of its own position. The National Economic Council may have its bill pre- 
sented by one of its own members before the National Assembly. 

Supervisory and administrative functions may be delegated to the workers' 
councils and to the economic councils within their respective areas. 

The regulation of the organization and duties of the workers' councils and 
of the economic councils, as well as their relation to other social bodies endowed 
with administrative autonomy, is exclusively a function of the Commonwealth. 


Until the establishment of the National Administrative Court, the National 
Judicial Court takes its place in the organization of the Electoral Commission. 

The provisions of Article 18, Paragraphs 3 to 6, become effective two years 
after the promulgation of the national Constitution. 

Until the adoption of the State law as provided in Article 63, but at the most 
for only one year, all the Prussian votes in the National Council may be cast 
by members of the State Cabinet. 

The National Cabinet will determine when the provisions of Article 83, 
Paragraph i, shall become eflfective. 



Temporarily, for a reasonable period, the collection and administration of 
customs-duties and taxes on articles of consumption may be left to the States 
at their discretion. 


The Postal and Telegraphic Administrations of Bavaria and Wurtemberg 
■will be taken over by the Commonwealth not later than April i, 1921. 

If no understanding has been reached over the terms thereof by October i, 
1920, the matter will be decided by the Supreme Judicial Court. 

The rights and duties of Bavaria and Wurtemberg remain in force as hereto- 
fore until possession is transferred to the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, the 
postal and telegraphic relations with neighboring foreign countries will be 
regulated exclusively by the Commonwealth. 


The state railroads, canals and aids to navigation will be taken over by the 
Commonwealth not later than April i, 1921. 

If no understanding has been reached over the terms thereof by October i, 
1920, the matter will be decided by the Supreme Judicial Court. 

Until the national law regarding the Supreme Judicial Court becomes effective 
its powers will be exercised by a Senate of seven members, four of whom are to 
be elected by the National Assembly and three by the National Judicial Court, 
each choosing among its own members. The Senate will regulate its own pro- 

Until the adoption of a national law according to Article 138, the existing 
state contributions to the religious societies, whether authorized by law, con- 
tract or special grant, will be continued. 

Until the adoption of the national law provided for in Article 146, Paragraph 
2, the existing legal situation will continue. The law shall give special con- 
sideration to parts of the Commonwealth where provision for separate schools 
of different religious faiths is not now made by law. 

The provisions of Article 109 do not apply to ordfrs and decorations con- 
ferred for services in the war-years 19 14-19 19. 


All public officers and members of the armed forces shall be sworn upon this 
Constitution. Details will be regulated by order of the National President. 

Wherever by existing laws it is provided that the oath be taken in the form 
of a religious ceremony, the oath may be lawfully taken in the form of a simple 
affirmation by the person to be sworn : "I swear." Otherwise the content of the 
oath provided for in the laws remains unaltered. 


The Constitution of the German Empire of April 16, 1871, and the law of 
February 10, 19 19, relating to the provisional government of the Common- 
wealth, are repealed. 

The other laws and regulations of the Empire remain in force, in so far as 
they do not conflict with this Constitution. The provisions of the Treaty of 
Peace signed on June 28, 19 19, at Versailles, are not affected by the Constitution. 

Official regulations, legally issued on the authority of laws heretofore in 
effect, retain their validity until superseded by other regulations or legislation. 


In so far as reference is made in laws or executive orders to provisions and 
institutions which are abolished by this Constitution, their places are taken by 
the corresponding provisions and institutions of this Constitution. In particular, 
the National Assembly takes the place of the National Convention, the National 
Council that of the Committee of the States, and the National President elected 
by authority of this Constitution that of the National President elected by 
authority of the law relating to the provisional government. 

The power to issue executive orders, conferred upon the Committee of the 
States in accordance with the provisions heretofore in effect, is transferred to the 
National Cabinet ; in order to issue executive orders it requires the consent of 
the National Council in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. 

Until the convening of the first National Assembly, the National Convention 
will function as the National Assembly. Until the inauguration of the first 
National President the office will be filled by the National President elected by 
authority of the law relating to the provisional government. 




The German People have ordained and established this Constitution by their 
National Convention. It goes into effect upon the day of its promulgation. 

ScHWARZBURG, August ii, 19 iq 

The National President : Ebert. 

The National Cabinet : Bauer, Erzberger, Hermann Muller, Dr. David, 
NosKE, Schmidt, Schlicke, Giesberts, Dr. Mayer, Dr. Bell. 




Page 48, line 1 1 : For "diregarded" read "disregarded." 

Page 76, line 13 : For "this expression" read "their expression." 

Page 84, line 5 : For "and this" read "and thus." 

Page 90, lines 33 and 34: For "Michalis" read "Michaelis." 

Page 94, line 18: For "Michalis" read "Michaelis." 

Page 107, line i : For "Michalis" read "Michaelis." 

Page 116, line i: For "Michalis" read "Michaelis." 

Page 195, lines 5 and 12 : For "etape" read "etafpe." 

Page 209, line 19 : For "etape" read "etappe." 

Page 232, line 24 : For "by their acts, but rather by their motives" 

read "by their acts instead of by their motives." 
Page 240, line 24 : For "Hamburg" read "Harburg." 
Page 248, line 28 : For "intransigent" read "intransigeant." 
Page 257, line 17: For "governments' troops disposition" read 

"government troops' disposition." 
Page 259, line 10: For "Bosheviki" read "Bolsheviki." 

Printed in the United States of America 

Date Due 

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